EXPERTS from around the world converged on Huddersfield today to pool research on social issues.

Delegates from 15 countries are at the town’s university to present their findings on issues such as abortion, disability, racial prejudice, homophobic bullying, unemployment, abusive relationships and the situation of women in Iran.

The university is hosting a three-day conference entitled Understanding the Social World. It is the third time the conference has been held at the Queensgate campus.

Dr Surya Monro, of the university’s Centre for Research in the Social Sciences, said: “Here at Huddersfield, we carry out high quality applied research ourselves and because of the nature of the university I think we are closer to the real world than some of the more ‘elite’ institutions.

“This is reflected in the kind of papers we attract to this conference, which continues a tradition of robust and critical enquiry.”

Understanding the Social World was first convened at the university in 1995 and repeated in 2000.

On its return on 2011 it has again attracted academic researchers from around the globe.

“We provide space for discussing important international issues,” said Dr Monro.

“Social studies are crucial to our understanding of human well-being and economic productivity.

“The conference shows how research is making a real difference in the real world.”

Eminent overseas researchers at the conference include experts from the Universities of Kelaniya and Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, who have been probing the lives of slum dwelling teenage girls in Colombo.

One delegate from Hong Kong Baptist University examines attitudes towards people with Down’s syndrome while another from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology looks at aspects of disability pensions.

Another from Payame Noor University in Iran presents two papers on the lives of Iranian women.

Other countries represented include Canada, Belgium, Australia, Rumania, Albania and the USA.