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St Andrews leads research boost for Scotland

The University of St Andrews is to share in an award of £9.4 million from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) to launch a major new collaboration on research in economics.

St Andrews will be one of the leading players in the establishment of the Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE), which aims to create a critical mass of leading economics academics in Scotland and help improve the nation’s long term economic performance.

SIRE involves the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Paisley, St Andrews, Stirling, Strathclyde, Heriot-Watt University, and Napier University who are investing £11.6 million of their own resources. This brings the total investment to £21 million.

SIRE will use the funds to recruit 36 world-class researchers, with 18 professorships and 18 lectureships, as well as supporting the development of collaborative research and research training activities building on the success of the innovative pan-Scottish Graduate Programme in Economics.

St Andrews will gain three new chairs and three new lectureships under the SIRE initiative.

Economics is an intensely competitive field of work. The aim of the SIRE collaboration is to create a critical mass of leading economics academics and researchers, leading to better research and a more attractive research environment.

The group has identified key challenges facing Scotland’s economy and it will focus on three research themes of strategic importance:

the behaviour, incentives and contracts theme – principally involving the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University – is about motivation. It investigates how people respond to incentives, and devises organisational structures and contracts that lead people to behave in a manner that is best for society; work and wellbeing – principally involving the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Stirling, and Napier University – focuses on the economic and social factors that affect the health and productivity of the population; and macroeconomics, financial linkages and the regions – principally involving the Universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde, Paisley and St Andrews – concerns how economic growth may be improved within and across countries, and the links between the financial sector and economic growth. Professor Charles Nolan of the University of St Andrews said:

“This is a critical development for economic research in Scotland and St Andrews.

“We have been closely involved in the establishment of this programme from the outset and the Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomics based here in St Andrews was seen as a model of collaboration on which the success of SIRE might be based.

“We are delighted to be one of the leading players in this initiative and to be receiving such a significant share of the funding.”

Professor David Ulph, newly appointed Professor of Economics and Head of School of Economics and Finance said ” I am determined that our School at St Andrews becomes recognised for producing top class research that supports the economic policy agenda. I see the SIRE development as a key to our achieving this ambition, and will ensure that we play a full and active part in SIRE.”

Commenting on the funding award, Roger McClure, Chief Executive of SFC said: “The three chosen research themes go right to the heart of what leads to success or failure in a modern economy. So this is a key strategic investment for Scotland which will give the nation the capability to probe the many complex factors underlying our economic performance. Getting these right is absolutely crucial to our future prosperity.”

This is the fifth research pool to date to have been awarded funding by the Council. The research pooling initiative was created to encourage research teams across Scottish higher education to pool their resources to achieve a critical mass in key areas of research, and respond to increasing international competition.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Contact : Niall Scott, tel 01334 462244, mobile 07711 223062

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