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GW4 Alliance facilitates British Academy’s expansion into South West

Press release issued: 7 December 2021

The British Academy today grows its Early-Career Researcher (ECR) Network - a pilot programme aimed at UK-based postdoctoral researchers in the humanities and social sciences - into the South West with a new hub supported by the GW4 Alliance of universities.

The GW4 Alliance - comprising the Universities of Bristol, Bath, Cardiff and Exeter - will enable networking events and activities for ECRs in the South West together with a consortium of five other universities located in the region - Bath Spa, Bournemouth, Gloucestershire, Plymouth and UWE.

This two-year pilot programme, made possible thanks to a partnership with the Wolfson Foundation, aims to establish an inclusive, UK-wide Network for ECRs in the humanities and social sciences, providing opportunities for skills development and networking across the whole country.

The launch of the new hub in the South West region of England follows the successful launch of the first hub in the Midlands in September, led by the University of Birmingham. One further hub will be announced during the two-year pilot programme, further details of which will follow in Spring 2022.

Following the launch of the second hub today, researchers from both the South West and the Midlands are invited to join the ECR Network via the British Academy’s website. Humanities and social sciences researchers who identify as early career are eligible to join, regardless of their funding source or background. This includes those working outside of academia, in independent research organisations and other policy or third sector institutions, and those not in employment but with relevant links into the Midlands and South West research communities.

Professor John Scott FBA, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Plymouth and Chair of the Advisory Board of the British Academy’s ECR Network, said: “The launch of our second regional hub in the South West is a major step forward in the establishment of our national support network for early career researchers in the humanities and social sciences. We welcome the participation of the regional consortium in helping us to build and enhance research skills and capacities for a vibrant research base.

“This new step brings together the passion, networks and power of the British Academy, the partner universities and the dedicated researchers themselves and will ensure that these disciplines will truly shape our future.”

Dr Joanna Jenkinson MBE, GW4 Alliance Director, said: “We are delighted that the British Academy has recognised our commitment to supporting ECRs and to creating the research leaders of the future, which is directly relevant to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) R&D People and Culture Strategy.

“This new ECR network further strengthens GW4's core mission, which is to enable new collaborations and research opportunities across the region that would not be possible within one institution alone.”

Further information

About the British Academy:

The British Academy is the UK’s national academy for the humanities and social sciences. The Academy mobilises these disciplines to understand the world and shape a brighter future. They invest in researchers and projects across the UK and overseas, engage the public with fresh thinking and debates, and bring together scholars, government, business and civil society to influence policy for the benefit of everyone.

About the GW4 Alliance:

The GW4 Alliance brings together four of the most research-intensive and innovative universities in the UK; the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, and Exeter. It is the only research alliance to collaborate across England and a devolved administration. Working with other organisations, industry, and society, GW4 aims to enhance research collaboration; address global, societal, and industrial challenges; and inform policy at national and international levels.

About the Wolfson Foundation:

The Wolfson Foundation is an independent charity with a focus on research and education. Its aim is to support civil society by investing in excellent projects in science, health, heritage, humanities and the arts.
Since it was established in 1955, some £1 billion (£2 billion in real terms) has been awarded to projects throughout the UK, all on the basis of expert review.

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