|University of Essex|
University of East Anglia
University of Kent
The Eastern Academic Research Consortium, or "Eastern Arc", is a regional research collaboration between the University of East Anglia, the University of Essex, and the University of Kent. The three partner institutions are all part of the "plate glass universities" established in the 1960s.
The establishment of Eastern Arc was recognised by Harrison, Smith and Kinton (2015) as part of the 'new regionalisation of UK higher education.'
In its first iteration Eastern Arc focussed on three themes to encourage interdicsdiplinary collaboration between its members. Each university acted as the academic lead in one of the three areas.
Each of the themes was led by a permanent academic at each university, and a fellow was appointed on a five year contract to work with them, meaning that there were nine early career researchers funded across Eastern Arc
Within Digital Humanities and Quantitative Social Sciences there were two students at each university; in Synthetic Biology there were three.
During its first iteration, Eastern Arc was involved in a number of funded projects and networks, including Enabling Innovation: Research to Application (EIRA) (funded by Research England), the Business and Local Government Data Research Centre (funded by the Economic and Social Research Council), and the Thames Estuary Production Corridor (funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Suport (DCMS)). It was also part of three doctoral training partnerships:
In 2019 Phil Ward was appointed as the consortium's first director. He developed a strategy for 2020-25 that continued to focus on developing interdisciplinary collaborations, but moved away from the three pillars of the first iteration, focusing instead on four themes that were identified as collective strengths of the three universities through mapping field-weighted citation impact, REF2014 outcomes, grant capture and a number of other qualitative data.
Eastern Arc 'champions' were appointed to take academic leadership within each of the four themes.
In its second iteration, Eastern Arc has three objectives:
As part of its third objective, EARC has started to engage pro-actively with political debate around contemporary issues relating to regional and science policy. It has published a series of position papers and an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in response to the UK government's cuts to ODA research funding. It questioned the focus of the UK's 'levelling-up' agenda and the need for a granular analysis of need to be undertaken. It noted that the east and southeast of England, which was relatively prosperous, was also home to significant deprivation, particularly in its coastal communities (such as Jaywick, which has been identified as the most deprived ward in the country).