Aberdeen earmarks £15 million to recruit elite international scholars

April 2, 2009

The University of Aberdeen has launched a £15 million recruitment drive to attract academic leaders from around the world.

Duncan Rice, principal of Aberdeen, told Times Higher Education that the institution would invest the money over the next three years to recruit world-leading scholars.

"We're a university that regards itself as going upwards in quality ... We have got good cash (reserves) and our turnover is increasing. It's not unreasonable to work out how we can build our human capital further," he said.

The drive follows a similar exercise three years ago, when the university invested £9 million in the appointment of 70 professors and a number of junior academics.

"That was enormously successful. We simply want to push ahead and do it again on a slightly larger scale," Professor Rice said.

Aberdeen set no quotas for the recruits.

"We are simply saying that the university is looking for a few genuinely brilliant men and women. We don't know who they will be, where they will come from, or how much they will cost," he added.

The recruits must be "exciting enough to take the university in new, creative directions".

But Professor Rice admitted that some of the £15 million pot might be used to offer existing members of staff the chance to take early retirement.

The campaign was launched in the week that Aberdeen revealed that it was considering plans to allow English students with exceptional A-level grades to skip the first year of undergraduate study, shortening the traditional four-year Scottish degree to three years.

"We're looking at ways in which we might get people to go straight into the second year. That's been done on the other side of the Atlantic for a very long time," Professor Rice said.

"We are very interested in attracting English students, but we are also interested in attracting students with high potential, wherever they come from."

hannah.fearn@tsleducation.com.

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