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SOAS secures HEFCE funding to support postgrad area studies

12 December 2013

SOAS, University of London, together with a consortium of three other universities, has secured funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to deliver scholarships for postgraduate language-based area studies.

The funding, which totals £839,292, will be divided among the institutions involved in the Sustainable Funding for Language-based Area Studies project. These institutions are the British Inter-university China Centre (BICC), White Rose East Asia Centre (WREAC) and Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World (CASAW). The funding will be used for a total of 31 postgraduate scholarships across the institutions, 22 of which will be at SOAS.

The aim of this project is to reduce barriers for students and support career opportunities and promote new, two-year taught postgraduate programmes, which combine disciplinary and research methods training with intensive language tuition. It will also contribute to enhancing relevant skills for postgraduate students on existing programmes through shorter training courses.

Project leader Professor Michel Hockx, Director of SOAS China Institute, said: “The past decade has seen unprecedented transformation of the economies and societies of East Asia, South Asia and the Middle East, prompting significant UK interest and investment. Yet detailed knowledge and understanding of these regions remains weak, impeding informed engagement both by businesses and public bodies. This project addresses the UK’s strategic weakness in language-based area studies with reference to China, India, Japan, Korea, and the Arab world.

“The project will also pilot new funding mechanisms, by bringing together two previously separate funding models: that of the LBAS centres, which have thus far relied largely on public funding, and that of SOAS, which has an established track record of attracting corporate funding for area studies. By working together and merging the two funding models, we will pilot a new, sustainable way of developing and enhancing postgraduate training of a set of skills that is crucial to the UK’s economic competitiveness, global political position and national security.”

The Scottish Centre for China Research (SCCR) will also be a partner in this project.