Funding Competition:Partnering for Global Position

Funding Competition:Partnering for Global Position

The University of Aberdeen has received a gift to be used to support its endeavours to be a top 100 global higher education institution.

According to 2013 QS Top Universities, the University Faculty rankings are as follows:

  • Life Sciences and Medicine: 127 with score of 70.20 [top 100 score:  98.20-72.80]
  • Engineering: 247 and 62.90 [top 100 score: 96.30-71.10]
  • Arts and Humanities: 137 and 60.90 [top 100 score 99.10-65.10]
  • Natural Sciences: 343 and 59.90 [97.00-74.00]
  • Social Sciences and Management: 242 and 60.40 [96.30-69.20]

The ranking illustrates that Life Sciences/Medicine and Arts and Humanities are between 3-4 points below the global top 100 while the remaining three Faculties range between 8-14 points.

The Gift

The sum available is approximately £600,000. The donors recognise that the offered donation is unlikely to be transformative on its own; the donation should be seen as a catalyst for activities that Faculty consider would contribute to this objective. With this in mind, the donors see themselves having a role in leveraging additional funding from elsewhere. In order to do this best they currently envisage a project focusing on Africa or Asia as these are areas of the world where they have long-standing links and experience (although they would not wish that project ideas be constrained by area of activity).

The donors would like to build upon existing strength(s) within the University, rather than create something entirely new. Thus, the project might build upon the University inter-disciplinary themes: specifically, energy, environment and food security and pathways to healthy living, taking into account the rankings above.

One outcome is that the project should result in partnering with at least one other leading higher education institution in one of the geographical areas highlighted. The activity may centre on research, education or training (individually or as part of a portfolio of activities) with benefits for all partners through a genuine exchange of ideas/expertise – not a partnership where the University of Aberdeen imposes its goals and values on the other organisation(s). This in turn  is expected to result in a clear institutional legacy for all institutional partners - not simply to provide an intellectual legacy to individuals who have carried out research or training. The partnership should ensure that all parties develop in new, positive directions.


The University is now launching a competition to identify a project for the donation. Characteristics of success include:


1.Demonstrate how the activity will contribute to the University increasing its position in the Global rankings

2.Demand driven. Demonstrate through, for example, a concise mapping exercise, that the activity does not duplicate work underway elsewhere

3.Demonstrate links with important initiatives at the University and elsewhere – e.g. through existing research projects, student exchanges, etc.

4.Act as a catalyst, not only for change within the partner institutions but as a driver for further investment in the scheme


1.A clearly identified internal champion who will work to build partnerships and maintain momentum, ensuring that goals are achieved. Be collaborative, with an ethos of cross-university working

2.The project might involve ways to engage with alumni in target areas– such engagement could benefit the project as well as build the University’s international links and profile


The donation is not for scholarships, buildings or equipment.

Application Process

Applicants are asked to submit a one page outline of their proposal, indicating how the project meets the objectives, characteristics and proposed outcomes highlighted above in order to help the University meet its ambition to be a world leading university. The applications will be assessed by a panel consisting of a Vice Principal for Research and Knowledge Exchange, College Directors of Research and one of the donors will review the concept notes. Shortlisted applications will be invited to submit a detailed proposal, to meet the panel and present their proposal before a final decision is made.


13 January 2014 to 23 February 2014 – Competition open, call for a one page outline proposal

24 February 2014 – Closing date for applications

25 February 2014 to 13 March 2014 – Judging of outline applications

14 March 2014 – Shortlist of applicants invited to submit full proposals announced

15 March 2014 to 24 April 2014 – Shortlisted applicants develop full proposals

25 April 2014 – Closing date for submission of full proposals

Following the submission of full proposals the finalists will be invited to make presentations to the judging panel. This will be arranged as soon as possible following the closing date, diaries permitting, and a winning application will be selected thereafter.


It is proposed that applications should be submitted in a MS Word format on one page by February 24, 2014. Applications should be emailed to the College contact listed below representing the principal applicant’s College:

College of Arts and Social Sciences, Mr Michael Roberts at 

College of Life Sciences and Medicine, Ms Kirsteen Watt at

College of Physical Sciences, Dr Hulda Sveinsdottir at

Any queries about the competition or application process should be directed to Professor Phil Hannaford, Vice Principal for Research and Knowledge Exchange at