The Launch of a New Research Network for Scotland’s Housing Economists

Scotland has for some time been the home to three major centres for academic research in housing and real estate economics and finance: Department of Urban Studies (University of Glasgow), School of the Built Environment (Heriot- Watt University) and Centre for Property Research (University of Aberdeen).   Significant work is also being done at other Scottish universities such as St Andrews, Strathclyde, Stirling and Paisley, not to mention the researchers in Universities south of the Border and abroad (including the Universities of Sheffield, Durham, Reading, Melbourne, Berkeley, and Ottawa) with established interests in the Scottish housing system. Unfortunately, academics working in these centres tend to meet only fleetingly at international conferences. As their work covers related topics, uses similar data and techniques and is potentially important to the Scottish economy, much could be gained from a more collegiate and collaborative approach.

Perhaps the greatest divide is across sectors.  In my experience, interactions between academic housing economists and their counterparts in the public and commercial sectors are superficially patchy.  However innovative and interesting the research being done in our leading universities, if it rarely reaches those at the coalface then an important motivation for academic research is lost.  If many of the UK’s leading housing researchers are located north of the border, it makes sense for Scottish policy makers and practitioners to make the most of this important resource.  There is a very real imperative to bridge the sectoral divide. 

Growing awareness of these opportunities has led to the establishment of a new research network – the Scottish Housing Economics and Finance Research Network (SHEFRN).  Its goals are to encourage dissemination of outputs, foster increased collegiality and provide a forum for future collaboration.  Primarily, the aim is to bridge the divide between academic, public and private sectors, making greater use of the synergies in the work of housing economists, whatever their background.

At the formal launch of SHEFRN in June 2006, invited participants representing the three sectors will identify the priority themes for Scottish housing research and will attempt to hammer-out the role of the new network.  The event will also highlight the findings of one of the most important housing research projects in Scotland in recent years - - Dr Eric Levin (University of Glasgow) and Professor Robert Wright (University of Strathclyde) will present their work the impact of net out-migration and falling fertility rates on the future of the Scottish housing market.  Their work will also be published as the first issue of a new discussion paper series to be launched by SHEFRN following the June conference.

Dr Gwilym Pryce
Deputy Director of the Graduate School (Law, Business, and Social Sciences)
Chair of SHEFRN
Chair of the Housing Research Group
Department of Urban Studies, University of Glasgow
25 Bute Gardens, Glasgow  G12 8RS
Tel:              0141 330 5048
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