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£80 million grant boost for art and design research

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The government has set up a new research board to address the funding gap in art and design. The Arts and Humanities Research Board (ahrb) has £80 million to spend in the first two years and has been created following Dearing Committee criticism that not enough research money was available for design.

With the next Research Assessment Exercise (rae) due in 2001, the new board is welcome news for the uk's design and architecture community. In the last rae (in 1996), the architecture schools which scored highly did so largely because of strong science- and technology-funded research.

Those in the new universities in particular will welcome the funds. In the past it was mainly charities which supported architecture and design research (Leverhulme, Churchill, Joseph Rowntree) but, recognising the importance of design to the economy, hefce has at last acknowledged the weight of Dearing's argument.

The new ahrb will have £36 million available in 1998/99, and £44 million in 1999/2000, made up of contributions mainly from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Department for Education in Northern Ireland and the British Academy (institutions in Scotland and Wales will not be eligible for the new grants). The chairman designate is Professor Paul Langford of Oxford University, a historian and authority on Horace Walpole. Nominations are being sought for the other members of the board.

Support is available in the form of research grants of up to £100,000 a year, personal grants of £5000 to scholars, help with overseas travel for research and attendance at conferences, and funding for research leave. The closing date for applications in the first year is 30 September for grants up to 31 March 1999, and 30 November for expenditure starting April 1999.

Details are on 0171 969 5217 or web site http://britac3.britac.ac.uk

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