Centres for Excellence in language-based Area Studies

News summary

Funding targets greater understanding of China, Japan, Eastern Europe and Arabic-speaking world.

Five collaborative centres in language-based Area Studies centres have been funded under a joint initiative between the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

All centres will be funding masters' studentships, doctoral studentships and post-doctoral research. They will also provide intensive language training and cultural preparation for students who do not already have these skills.

Other activity includes developing online language learning, developing Virtual Research Environments (VREs), funding visiting research fellows, and offering language-training to mid-career academics, businesses and the general public.

The centres funded through the initiative

Centre for Russian, Central and East European Studies (CRCEES)


Director: Richard Berry
Lead institution: University of Glasgow
Partner Institutions: St Andrew's University, University of Aberdeen, University of Edinburgh, University of Paisley, University of Strathclyde, University of Newcastle and University of Nottingham

Centre for East European Language-Based Area Studies (CEELBAS)


Director: Robin Aizlewood
Co-directors: Julian Cooper and Christopher Davis
Lead Institution: UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies
Consortium institutions: University of Birmingham (CREES), University of Oxford (REES)
Network Institutions: University of Bath, University of Cambridge, University of Kent, University of Manchester, University of Sheffield, University of Warwick and the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London).

Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World (CASAW)


Director: Dr Elisabeth Kendall
Co-Directors: Hoda Elsadda, Paul Starkey and Anoush Ehteshami
Lead Institution: University of Edinburgh
Partner institutions: University of Durham, University of Manchester

White Rose East Asia Centre


Director: V Terry King
Lead institution: University of Leeds
Partner institution: University of Sheffield

British Inter-university China Centre


Director: Frank Pieke
Co-directors: Robert Bickers and William Callahan
Lead institution: University of Oxford
Partner institutions: University of Bristol, University of Manchester

Further reading

HEFCE press release: New funding targets greater understanding of China, Japan, Eastern Europe and Arabic-speaking world (2 June 2006)

ESRC's original call for proposals


Notes for editors

1. This initiative is jointly funded by the HEFCE the ESRC, the AHRC and the SFC over a 5 year period. HEFCE is contributing almost half of the initiative's £25million budget with the rest of the funders making up the balance.

2. The HEFCE is the major public funder of higher education in England. It distributes some £7 billion per annum for teaching, research and knowledge transfer. Its total expenditure on research in 2005/06 is £;1.25 billion.

3. The ESRC is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It provides independent, high quality, relevant research to business, the public sector and Government. The ESRC total expenditure in 2005/6 is £135million. At any time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and research policy institutes.

4. Each year the AHRC provides approximately £80 million to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from archaeology and English literature to design and dance. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,500 postgraduate awards.
Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. Arts and humanities researchers constitute nearly a quarter of all research-active staff in the higher education sector. The quality and range of research supported not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.

5. SFC is a non-departmental public body responsible to *but operating at arm's length from* the Scottish Executive. It distributes more than £1.5 billion of public funds annually on behalf of the Scottish Executive. The Council provides financial support for learning and teaching, and research and associated activities in Scotland's 20 higher education institutions (HEIs). As well as providing financial support for learning and teaching in Scotland's 43 further education (FE) colleges, the Council also provides resources to enable colleges to offer bursaries to students on non-advanced courses.