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Research 'coup' for Glasgow

MORE than 70 years of independent existence as one of the world's foremost bodies in its field is to end for the Scottish Council for Research in Education. It has announced plans to merge with the faculty of education at Glasgow University, with which the council has been in talks for some time.

There had been pressure on both parties to strike a deal. The research council, founded in 1928, is to have its core Government funding withdrawn next March after which it will have to earn all of its keep from its own efforts.

The pound;338,000 it receives from the Scottish Executive in the current year represents a third of its income. It has also lost a number of key staff over recent years and is not felt to be the force it once was.

For its part, Glasgow University is anxious to build up its research expertise to attract funds from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council. Its education faculty was graded four in the research assessment exercise and it believes the SCRE can help it do better.

Professor Chris Morris, Glasgow University's vice-principal, said the research council would bring "a strong, viable experienced research unit that already has an international reputation".

Bill Furness, chairman of the SCRE board, hoped that being part of a larger organisation would give the research council funding stability to allow it take on larger projects and expand its activities.

Hirek Kwiatkowski, dean of the education faculty, described the merger as "a real coup for Glasgow". His eyes are now set on the increasing research opportunities opening up in education, not least the pound;2 million special fund announced last month for applied educational research This is open to bids from higher education institutions only, which means that an independent SCRE would have been excluded.

The research council will remain in its Edinburgh offices at least until the lease there runs out at the end of 2004. It will, however, have a Glasgow base.

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