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The University of Southampton

University of Southampton announced as partner in new Third Sector Centre

Published: 9 July 2008
Professor John Mohan
University of Southampton announced as partner in new Third Sector Centre

The University of Southampton, in partnership with the University of Birmingham, will jointly lead a new Third Sector Research Centre dedicated to analysing the impact of the sector's activities.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Office of the Third Sector (OTS) and the Barrow Cadbury Trust to support the vital role of third sector organisations, the Centre will receive a total joint investment of £10.25 million over the next five years.

It will be directed by Professor Pete Alcock of the University of Birmingham and Professor John Mohan of the University of Southampton will act as deputy director. The Centre will conduct research and analysis to strengthen the evidence base for the entire third sector, including charities, social enterprises and small community organisations.

Focusing on key issues such as the sector's scale, dynamics and effectiveness, its work will include research into the effectiveness and impact of third sector organisations, as well as specific research programmes of direct relevance to third sector policy and practice; mapping of the sector, and an enhanced understanding of its dynamics.

At Southampton, the Centre will be based in the School of Social Sciences, where research activity will be concentrated in the Divisions of Sociology and Social Policy, Politics and International Relations, and Social Statistics. There will also be collaboration with staff from the School of Geography. Academics will be developing systematic reviews of the evidence base on the sector, assembling and analysing large-scale databases, and conducting several research projects investigating political, sociological and geographical aspects of third sector development.

Professor John Mohan commented: "This is an exciting new opportunity to provide an extensive and robust research resource for the Third Sector and to work closely with policy makers and practitioners - both locally and nationally - in building capacity and engagement. We are pleased to have been chosen to run the Centre and are looking forward to commencing work in September."

Professor Tony McGrew, Head of the School of Social Sciences said: "I am delighted that this strong academic partnership between social scientists at Birmingham and Southampton has achieved such success.

"This new Centre brings together scholars from many different disciplinary backgrounds from within and beyond the School, not only to advance our knowledge of the third sector but also to make an important contribution to public policy in this field."

Phil Hope, Minister of the Third Sector, added: "This is a very exciting development. This will be a Centre for the whole sector, with academics working alongside charities, social enterprises and small community associations to develop the evidence base on the sector and the impact it has on peoples' lives."

Two capacity building clusters (CBCs), based at the University of Middlesex and the University of Lincoln, will support the work of the Centre and be a resource for the sector.

Notes for editors

  • The School of Social Sciences at the University of Southampton hosts world-leading research centres including the Centre for Citizenship and Democracy; Centre for Global Health, Population, Poverty and Policy (GHP3); Centre for Research on Ageing; Child Well-Being Research Centre; Mountbatten Centre for International Studies (MCIS); and the Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute (S3RI).

    A wide variety of taught and research courses are offered in applied social sciences (anthropology, criminology and psychological studies), demography, economics, gerontology, global politics, political science, social policy, social statistics, social work, and sociology.

    The School has strong links with organisations such as the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It is also home to the hub of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM), and to the Higher Education Academy Social Policy and Social Work subject centre (SWAP).

  • The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship.

    This is one of the country's top institutions for engineering, computer science and medicine, and home to a range of world-leading research centres, including the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, the Optoelectronics Research Centre, the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, and the Mountbatten Centre for International Studies.

    We combine academic excellence with an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to research, supporting a culture that engages and challenges students and staff in their pursuit of learning.

    As one of the UK's top 10 research universities, we offer first-rate opportunities and facilities for study and research across a wide range of subjects in humanities, health, science and engineering.

    We have over 22,000 students, around 5000 staff, and an annual turnover in the region of £325 million.

  • The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It supports independent, high quality research which impacts on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's planned total expenditure in 2008/09 is £203 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and research policy institutes. More at

  • In recognition of the increasingly important role the third sector plays in both society and the economy, the Prime Minister created the Office of the Third Sector (OTS) in May 2006 to drive forward the Government's role in supporting a thriving third sector, and join up sector-related work across government. More at

  • The Barrow Cadbury Trust is an independent, charitable foundation committed to funding and encouraging the promotion of social justice. Established in 1920, The Barrow Cadbury Trust aims to close the gaps in current policy and practice by supporting work in local communities and acting as a bridge to national and international policymakers. More at

  • For further information:
    Sue Wilson, Communications, University of Southampton
    Tel. 023 8059 5457, email:
    Kelly Barnett, Acting Head of Press and PR, ESRC,
    Tel. 01793 413032, email:

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