Letter: College merger

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In response to Gavin Ross (Letters, 6 January), who protests against the merger between Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) and the University of Edinburgh, I would like to put forward a few key points.

Until the early 1990s, ECA was primarily a teaching institution, and, although it did pursue some fruitful academic collaborations with the University of Edinburgh, research was a very small part of what we did. All that has now changed.

ECA has been developing research-led teaching since then and has now established a highly respected research profile. In addition, important new areas of research have developed, such as Design Informatics, which calls for partnership between design, where the college is strong, and Informatics, where the strength lies with the university.

In the last research assessment exercise in 2008, the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, which combines researchers from ECA and the University of Edinburgh, was ranked first in Scotland and within the UK and second in terms of volume of the highest quality research.

This success is a clear indicator of how a combined art and design submission could fare equally well in the REF (Research Excellence Framework) 2014 and how the shared ambitions of the two academic institutions can be more clearly realised within a merged situation.

We are proposing to merge with an institution which fully shares our core values and ambitions, and we continue to value and to deliver excellent teaching. However, we would stress that research is not something being imposed on us.

Research is central to our activity, and informs the quality of everything that we do, including all of our teaching.

Professor Ian Howard

Edinburgh College of Art

Lauriston Place


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