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UK humanities and social science researchers secure almost half of prestigious European Research Council Advanced Grants

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UK-based researchers in the humanities and social sciences continue to overachieve in European Research Council (ERC) funding rounds, despite uncertainty about the UK’s status post-Brexit.

The UK has consistently outperformed other countries in EU research funding competitions, with UK institutions having received around £5bn since 2014 – 14.5% of the overall funding available in the current programme.

This is most pronounced in the humanities and social sciences, where this year UK-based academics have won 43% (23 of 54 available) of the ERC’s Advanced Grants in the humanities and social sciences – up from 25% in 2017 and 22% in 2016. Worth up to €2.5 million across five years, the grants provide established principal investigators with long-term funding to pursue ground-breaking and high-risk projects.

Of the 23 successful UK-based applicants in the humanities and social sciences this year, 13 – over half – have either been awarded research funding by the British Academy in the past ten years or are Fellows of the British Academy.

This year’s results are in line with the UK’s long-term performance in the ERC. From 2007 to 2015, UK-based researchers in the humanities and social sciences secured €626m in ERC funding, over a third of all the funding available in these subjects.

Of the 54 humanities and social science researchers awarded ERC Advanced Grants in this round, 13 had links to British Academy, including:

  • Professor Ian Armit (University of Leicester) – Communities and Connectivities: Iron Age Britons and Their Continental Neighbours
  • Professor Emma Crewe (SOAS, University of London) – A Global Comparative Ethnography of Parliaments, Politicians and People: Representation, Relationships and Ruptures
  • Professor Ian Haynes (Newcastle University) – Rome Transformed: Interdisciplinary Analysis of Political, Military and Religious Regenerations of the City’s Forgotten Quarter C1-C8 CE
  • Professor Ruth Mace FBA (University College London) – Sex-specific Demography and the Evolution of Gender-biased Harmful Cultural Practices
  • Professor Fulong Wu (University College London) – Rethinking China’s Model of Urban Governance.

Ash Amin, Foreign Secretary at the British Academy, said:

“UK-based academics, particularly those working in the humanities and social sciences, have for many years excelled at winning research grants from the European Research Council – and this year is no exception. It is wonderful to see them go from strength to strength.

"We are also extremely proud to see so many academics with a link to the British Academy among the recipients of these prestigious awards; their success demonstrates the crucial role the Academy plays in championing new and established talent in the humanities and social sciences.

"However, this only serves to underline what is at stake if the UK cannot secure a close association with EU Framework Programmes after Brexit. As the Academy has highlighted, European research mobility, funding and collaboration are essential to the health of our world-leading research and development sector, and to the professional development of thousands of academics.”