World-leading social science research at Essex is being recognised with the presentation of a prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education at Buckingham Palace. The Prize is the highest form of national recognition for the work of a UK university and was officially bestowed on the University at Buckingham Palace by Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.
The Award was received by Essex’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster and Director of the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) Professor Emily Grundy.
They were accompanied to Buckingham Palace by Professor Heather Laurie, ISER Director from 2009-14; Professor Mike Brewer, Director of the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change (MiSoc) and University Pro-Chancellor Judith Judd. The official delegation also included five Essex PhD students from the UK, United States, Austria, Italy and Turkey – showing the global reach of the University.
The official commendation states the Prize is for Essex’s “authoritative social and economic research to inform the policies of governments for the improvement of people’s lives”.
The Award particularly recognises the work of ISER which has built a global reputation since being established in 1989 and has attracted significant funding support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
Professor Forster said: “Winning our second Queen’s Anniversary Prize is a huge honour for the whole of the University of Essex. This highlights the world-renowned social science research taking place here.
“ISER is a flagship research institute at Essex and its work exemplifies our mission to undertake research which has a real impact on the world. ISER’s track record of producing exceptional postgraduate researchers is exemplary.
“This prize recognises how ISER researchers are delivering influential and authoritative research which has an impact at a regional, national and international level. They push the boundaries, stretch across disciplines and innovate to increase the accuracy and relevance of their research.
“Thanks to this ISER has become the touchstone for policymakers and those seeking to influence public policy in the UK and across the globe.”
The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Essex follows on from the University being ranked 22nd in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide and achieving the highest rating of Gold in the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework.
ISER is home to nearly 50 researchers who are working on externally funded research with a total value of £13.6m for 2017. Large-scale research centres include the ESRC Research Centre for Micro-Social Change (MiSoC) and Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study – the largest panel survey of its kind. EUROMOD, the hugely influential tax and benefit microsimulation model, was also developed at ISER and is used across Europe to develop policy. This expertise is now being used in new microsimulation models for developing countries.
ISER Director Professor Grundy said: “We are so proud to receive the Queen’s Anniversary Prize which recognises the incredible work of our research teams to deliver high-quality research which helps us understand how people’s lives are changing over time. For nearly three decades ISER has been at the forefront of social science research and has been a model for other institutes around the world. This Prize will spur us on to continue to extend the scope and impact of our quantitative and longitudinal research. We are very grateful for the continuing support of our partners and funders, in particular the Economic and Social Research Council and the University of Essex, alongside the government departments, charitable trusts, third and private sector organisations who work with us and support our research.”
Professor Jennifer Rubin, ESRC Chief Executive and Executive Chair Designate, said: “ISER is synonymous with the authoritative evidence and insights which are so vital to developing successful public policy. We’ve been supporting ISER’s ground-breaking and innovative work for 28 years and we’re delighted to see this Queen’s Anniversary Prize awarded for the rich insights and analysis delivered through flagship ESRC-funded projects such as MiSoC, the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and its successor Understanding Society. Through this work ISER has set the international standard for major longitudinal research which allows us to really understand how our societies are changing.”
ISER’s expertise in quantitative social science makes an important contribution to the research and educational environment for doctoral students and future researchers. This helped Essex achieve Q-Step affiliate status in 2015 which strengthens quantitative methods training at all levels while Understanding Society data is used in the research-led education at Essex.
ISER also contributes to the South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS) which unites ten regional universities and is part of the ESRC’s prestigious Doctoral Training Partnership network.
Students’ Union President Zoe Garshong said : “We’re thrilled that the University of Essex is being recognised for its incredible research. The Students’ Union is proud to work very closely with the University to provide an amazing student experience and we think that being exposed to real, world-class research is an essential part of that experience.
“We’re really pleased that our students were invited to be part of the events surrounding the Queen’s Anniversary Prize including the prize-giving ceremony at Buckingham Palace.”