Heriot-Watt’s I-SPHERE wins UK’s highest honour in higher education

Heriot-Watt University has been announced as a recipient of a prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of the work of its Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Equalities Research (I-SPHERE), an institute that has brought new impetus to UK and international efforts to address extreme forms of disadvantage.

Heriot-Watt's I-SPHERE wins UK's highest honour in higher education

An image from I-SPHERE's Hard Edges Scotland report (credit Michael Thomas Jones)

Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are awarded once every two years in recognition of the outstanding work delivered by UK colleges and universities.

Winning entries, awarded by The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, are required to demonstrate excellence, innovation and public benefit to the wider world. The prizes are described as the highest national honour awarded in UK further and higher education.

Founded by Heriot-Watt to deliver a unique research agenda, I-SPHERE’s scholarship combines insights from economics, law, human geography, moral and political philosophy and sociology.

The Institute’s creation has generated a critical mass of internationally recognised expertise on the topic of acute hardship, precipitating a step-change in both the policy and academic impact of the work delivered. I-SPHERE has quickly positioned itself as a global research leader in its field.

Professor Garry Pender, deputy principal for research and innovation at Heriot-Watt University, attended a ceremony in London where the awards were announced.

He said: “The Queen’s Anniversary Prize is one of the UK’s most prestigious national awards for world-leading research. It is a huge honour for all staff, students and alumni of our university and a very special accolade for I-SPHERE in particular.

“I-SPHERE’s research and innovation spans all major forms of extreme disadvantage and leads scholarship across disciplinary boundaries. It inspires innovation in social science research and develops connections while facilitating knowledge transfer around the world. This strategy is at the core of our university’s vision and is fully aligned with our mission to create and exchange knowledge that benefits society.”

Professor Glen Bramley of Heriot-Watt University attended the reception on behalf of I-SPHERE.

He added: “Using world-class research, our mission is to drive forward policy and legislative change to improve the lives of society’s most vulnerable. We help both governments and charities to target funds effectively and set the parameters of local and global debate on extreme disadvantage.

“We are enormously proud to have played a pivotal role in modernising homelessness legislation and have precipitated a paradigm shift to the evidenced-based Housing First model of intervention. Our path-breaking reports on Destitution in the UK, conducted for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, have opened up an entirely new research agenda in the poverty field.

“Our work has influenced a change in policy stance towards social housing, including the key significance of tenure security as well as highlighting how much new social housing should be built. To be recognised with this award is testament to the work not only of the I-SPHERE team but also the leading charities, frontline service workers, academic colleagues and policymakers with whom we collaborate.”

The Queen’s Anniversary Prize winners were announced at a reception held at St James’s Palace on Thursday 21st November 2019.

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