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New multi-million pound project helps shape Wales of tomorrow

11 September 2008

New multi million pound project helps shape Wales of tomorrow

Academic schools from across the University have joined together to establish an interdisciplinary social science research centre of excellence for Wales.

Drawing on the substantive and methodological expertise of staff from the Schools of Social Sciences, City and Regional Planning, European Studies, Business, and Law, the University is leading The Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD) - a £9M project which will help government, policy makers, and businesses better tackle major social problems in Wales.

Jointly funded for three years by the Economic and Social Research Council and Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the research centre also draws on existing social science expertise at Aberystwyth University, Bangor University, Swansea University and University of Glamorgan.

Together leading social scientists will take a more joined-up approach to gathering and analysing new and existing social science data to develop a more detailed picture of Wales. The Centre will cover areas ranging from economic activity and growth to education, community participation, health and social care.

The Institute will seek to engage the people of Wales in discussions about the places in which they live and how they can be changed for the better, and provide a solid research base to support policy development by the Welsh Assembly Government. It is also anticipated that it will enable Wales to better compete for future research funding.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan said "This is a substantial advance in social research of relevance to Wales. This new centre of excellence will take us much further down this road because making effective policy depends on high quality data and when that information has been assembled it becomes a starting point for problem-solving and policy development. WISERD’s work will enable the social science community to make a bigger contribution to addressing the key issues we face here in Wales."

Professor Teresa Rees, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research at Cardiff University said: "This heralds a new development for the social sciences in Wales. Not only will it enhance the research competitiveness of the Welsh sector on a UK and International basis it will also help gather the kinds of research data relating to Wales which will have practical applications for the benefit of every community in Wales.

"For the first time, Wales will be able to boast a centre of social science research excellence to support the Government in tackling economic and social issues in Wales through the collection of data, using the most advanced research methodologies and internationally renowned researchers."

Linked to the Economic and Social Research Council National Centre of Research Methods, the Institute will be coordinated from a Hub at Cardiff University and be responsible for social science research capacity building in Wales, developing links with other UK initiatives, and promoting collaboration across disciplines and institutions.

The Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods is currently recruiting 20 researchers to join an established team of internationally recognised researchers involved in the new venture.