The University of Birmingham has won a million pound funding agreement to widen the skills bank for the future in Eastern European languages and research. The financial support has been obtained by the Centre for Russian and East European Studies (CREES) at the European Research Institute.

The £25 million Language Based Area Studies initiative is jointly funded by HEFCE, the ESRC, the AHRC and the Scottish Funding Council and will lead to the creation of five new collaborative centres including the Centre for East European and Former Soviet Union Language-Based Area Studies (CEELBAS). As well as CREES, CEELBAS will comprise the School for Slavonic and East European Studies at UCL and the University of Oxford.

CEELBAS fought off nationwide competition to secure £5.6 million funding, of which more than one million will come to Birmingham.

CREES Director, Dr Kataryna Wolczuk, says: “This is a great success for CREES. We have been at the forefront of language-based research on Russia and Eastern Europe for over 40 years. The award reflects achievements of CREES and the ERI as a whole and will enable us to train many more high quality researchers in the field Central and Eastern Europe studies.’

The money comes as concern has grown over the declining expertise in Eastern Europe in the UK, particularly in terms of language skills. European enlargement saw eight new Member States from the East join the European Union in 2004, yet linguistic and cultural expertise in these countries is no longer adequate to serve the UK’s interests.

The funding, which is available over a five year period, has been specifically channelled to promote language-based area studies, with the aim of creating a new generation of highly trained experts with strong language skills. The intention is to produce a world-class cadre of multidisciplinary researchers and area specialists who have received rigorous training in languages.

The funding for the University of Birmingham includes 12 studentships for PhDs, two Post-doctoral Research Fellowships as well as provision for an expansion of language training in Ukrainian and Polish.

CREES hopes to select the first of these postgraduate students to begin their courses in October.


This initiative is jointly funded, with HEFCE contributing almost half of the initiative’s £25 million budget with the rest of the funders making up the balance.

The ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) is the UK’s largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues.

The AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council).

SFC is a non-departmental public body responsible to – but operating at arm’s length from – the Scottish Executive.

Further Media information:

Anna Mitchell – Press Officer, University of Birmingham

Tel: 0121 414 6029

Mob: 07920 593946