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UK universities to receive £204million to boost PhD access and quantum research

11 Mar 16  | Engineering |  Technology
£204million in funding announced to support PhDs and quantum research

More than £200 million has been pledged to support PhD students in engineering and physical sciences, and boost the UK’s research into quantum technologies. The announcement was made earlier this month at the University of Oxford’s Network Quantum Information Technologies Hub by Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson.

Intended to support cutting edge research across the UK and assist top students into a PhD, the fund will include £167 million to be invested in Doctoral Training Partnerships and £37 million for the UK’s National Quantum Technologies Programme, which will ‘further boost the UK’s leading position in creating new technologies which use advanced physics to deliver products for anything from more accurate brain-scanning and earlier Alzheimer’s diagnosis to smaller and more powerful computers’, according to the government press release.  

The fund forms ‘a part of the government’s ongoing commitment to UK science, with a record of £6.9 billion invested in science labs and equipment up to 2021, and protection of the science budget at £4.7bn per year in real terms for the rest of the Parliament’. 

In her visit to the Hub, Jo Johnson said:

          “We are committed to securing the UK’s position as a world leader in science and innovation. The government is ensuring major new discoveries happen here, such as the creation of super-powerful quantum computers which scientists are working on in Oxford. This new funding builds on our protection for science spending by supporting research in our world-leading universities and helping to train the science leaders of tomorrow.”           

40 universities will benefit from the Doctoral Training Partnerships, from Southampton on the South coast to Scotland’s Aberdeen, Wales’ Cardiff and Northern Ireland’s Belfast University, which will give around 2000 students the opportunity of Doctoral study, nurturing and supporting engineering and scientific talent in the UK. The funding is also intended to enable universities to develop new ideas, with more research support, in order to facilitate future funding from business to deliver new methods and understanding to improve our lives. 

The £37million funding, which will be directed towards the National Quantum Technologies Programme, will include investments in new equipment at seven university-based quantum institutions, as well as £12million to help train researchers just beginning their careers in quantum engineering. Together, these measures are expected to help ensure the UK is in a leading position to benefit from the huge potential quantum engineering represents for major global industries, such as computing and consumer electronics. 

£20.2million of the funding is earmarked for seven Scottish universities. The funding is awarded based on the quality of a university’s research projects, and the awards to seven Scottish universities reflect the strength of scientific research in Scotland. In 2014, Scotland received 11% of all UK public research funding, compared to an 8% share of the UK population. 

Scotland Office Minister Andrew Dunlop was very happy with the announcement:

          “This is a hugely important and significant funding announcement for universities in Scotland. Scottish universities have a strong track record and rich history in science and innovation, punching well across their weight across the world. This funding demonstrated the UK government’s continued commitment to support Scotland as [a] leading nation in science, research and innovation, as well as providing additional opportunities for our young people here in Scotland.”           

The UK's quantum development programme also assists in fostering important relationships with EU partners, which leads to improved co-operation and a sharing of research. This can also lead to key investment in UK discoveries and technology from European companies like Airbus. 

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