By Jennifer Hilder (PhD Intern)
Whatever happens in the independence referendum next year, yesterday’s white paper published by the Scottish Government, Scotland’s Future, shows their commitment and pride in knowledge exchange activities.
A whole section of the paper is devoted to ‘supporting Scotland’s universities’, which are praised as being ‘some of the world’s oldest and most prestigious’ as well as ‘some of the finest specialist vocational and modern institutions’. The quality of the research is unreservedly praised by the report, as is the excellence of the teaching and the international outlook of universities.
When discussing research specifically, the Scottish Government boasts of increasing investment in research and knowledge exchange activities by 38% in the last six years. In the 2013/14 academic year the Government’s investment in research will be £13.8 million.
The paper emphasises two particularly important aspects for maintaining this level of research. The first is funding, and the second is collaboration. Through the knowledge exchange activities of the College of Art, both of these aims are being achieved.
The College of Arts has proved itself very successful in securing funding. As announced last month, the College of Arts received a huge £14.2million from the UK research council, AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) to lead a consortium of universities across Scotland in providing studentships and training for doctoral researchers. In practice, this will mean creating and strengthening partnerships with organisations such as BBC Scotland and Oxfam Scotland. Additionally, the College received a further £1.8million to support the foundation of the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities, and £1.85million for doctoral students in Celtic languages.
Each and every knowledge exchange activity is a collaborative one, and in this sense too the College of Arts is already proving its value and contribution to the success of Scottish universities.
The international breadth of these collaborations is particularly impressive. In Performing Arts, work has been done with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Experts in Dress and Textiles have worked with the National Museum in Taiwan on the culturally significant Flag of the Formosa Republic. Academics working in the field of Cultural Education like Dr Margaret Tejerizo have advised on performances in Russian, French, Spanish and Romanian for the Edinburgh International Festival; Dr Saeko Yazaki teaches Japanese culture to Glaswegian children. Digital projects like BlogForever bring together a pan-European team of institutions and organisations, while Dr Jan Culik edits the Czech language journal Britské listy, which currently has 2.9million readers.
As the paper makes clear, the Government intends to maintain current levels of investment in research. Whether Scotland gains independence or not, that seems like a good sign for the future of universities and knowledge exchange.