ESRC grants Centre for Population Change transition funding under new model

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has today announced that the Centre for Population Change, along with a further seven established research centres, has been awarded funding to continue its work under a new model designed to secure the long term sustainability of social science research excellence in the UK.

In December 2017 the first ‘transition review’ took place for existing research centres coming to the end of their five year grant. The review approved a total of £6.9m of continued funding for the following ESRC research centres to undertake pioneering social science research:

• Centre for Population Change (CPC) co-hosted at the Universities of Southampton, St Andrews and Stirling.
• Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability Centre (STEPS) co-hosted by the Institute of Development Studies and the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex
• Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) at the University of Manchester
• Centre For Macroeconomics: Working towards a stable and sustainable growth path
• Systemic Risk Centre co-hosted at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and University College London (UCL).
• Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP) hosted jointly by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of Leeds
• International Centre for Life Course Studies in Society and Health: Centre Mid-Term Review Proposal (ICLS) at UCL
• ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS) at Lancaster University

ESRC is today announcing that each of these centres will receive ‘transition funding’ typically equating to 45% of the full economic costs of their original five-year grant funding. For the first time, this will be co-funded with contributions from ESRC (20%) and their host research organisation (25%).

The Centre for Population Change has successfully won two previous five year grants from ESRC and will be marking its 10th year in 2019.

Professor Jennifer Rubin, ESRC’s Chief Executive and Executive Chair Designate, said: “We are delighted that these eight centres have secured the backing of their research organisations for co-funding with ESRC. This will sustain them over a longer period, and help set them on a path to continue beyond their ESRC centres funding.

“This model for funding social science research centres in the UK also establishes a new relationship between ESRC and research organisations. It recognises the strategic and financial benefits brought by these centres of excellence and their potential for making a contribution nationally and internationally.”

Professor Jane Falkingham, CPC Director and Dean of the Faculty of Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Southampton, said: “I am delighted that ESRC has confirmed renewed funding for the Centre for Population Change, allowing us to continue to contribute to understanding the drivers and consequences of changes in the UK’s population in a period of increased uncertainty. With Brexit on the horizon, and a rapidly changing economy demanding new skills, changes in family life and a growing number of older people living longer, it has never been a more interesting time to be a demographer and I look forward to sharing the exciting results of our on-going research.”

Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton commented: “The University welcomes this essential funding for its renowned Centre for Population Change and is delighted to see that there is a desire to secure the long term sustainability of social science research in the UK. Our world-class research in this area contributes to addressing some of the world’s most important challenges.”

The new centres’ transition funding policy marks a step-change in the way ESRC supports its centres. It follows a review into how ESRC could continue to foster and sustain the excellence and impact of its centres over the long term, without reducing investment elsewhere.

The review found that ESRC centres had considerable scientific, societal and policy-making influence. Despite this, under the old model, some centres were experiencing a ‘cliff-edge’ in their funding when their grant came to an end, which meant they were unable to make the most of their research achievements, and were unable to take up opportunities to maximise their wider societal and economic impact. It also led to a reduction in centres funded by ESRC and put added pressure on centres and large grants competitions; reducing opportunities for new centres. This so called cliff-edge model was, however, unintentional. It was created when the period of centre funding was reduced from a possible 10 years to five, for budgetary reasons.

The new policy acknowledges that while ESRC is not in a position to fund existing centres in full for a further five years, an additional period of three to five years of ESRC support at a lower level would assist these centres to maximise the impact and use of their research findings, methods and data developments, and provide a base level of funding to support them to become more self-sustaining.

View the full story on the ESRC website.

See the University of Southampton's story on the new funding.

Notes to editors.

1. Transition Review Application Guidance and Centres Transition Funding FAQs (both available at

Further information:

Mark Gardner, Press Manager, Economic and Social Research Council, Tel.: 01793 413 122


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