UCL and partners win £5.4 million for PhD studentships

24 January 2012

UCL Lab

UCL has led a successful multi-institutional bid for £5.4 million to fund new PhD studentships in a competition run by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

The Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, announced the funding today as part of a UK-wide investment of £67 million in postgraduate training and development in the biosciences.

The new BBSRC London Interdisciplinary PhD Programme also involves King’s College London, Birkbeck, University of London, the Royal Veterinary College and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The award is for 18 four-year studentships a year for three years.

Professor John Carroll (Director, UCL Division of Biosciences) who co-ordinated the bid, said: “ We are very excited at the prospect of this cross-disciplinary PhD programme, which will help train a new generation of scientists confident in combining the best biosciences research with mathematical and computational approaches.

“We’re confident that the innovative cross-institutional nature of the award will drive collaboration across UCL and between all our partners”

Across the UK, 14 Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) will support 660 four-year PhD students. The programme will provide highly skilled scientists for academia, policy and industry and support the BBSRC mission to further scientific knowledge for economic growth, wealth and job creation - improving the quality of life in the UK and beyond.

The brightest and best students will be finding solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing us all, from food security through to renewable energy.

David Willetts

David Willetts said: “This £67 million investment in postgraduate training is excellent news for students, research organisations, industry and the UK as a whole. The brightest and best students will be finding solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing us all, from food security through to renewable energy.

“The partnership approach means that many institutions are combining their strengths to provide students with improved training and relevant work experience. This will better equip them for future careers, be it in research, industry, or elsewhere.”

The DTPs represent a new, more strategic approach from BBSRC to deliver highly skilled scientists for the UK research base. Taken as a whole, the DTP programme will deliver scientists with the training to meet major social and economic challenges in food security, sustainable bioenergy and renewable materials and improving lifelong health and wellbeing, as well as supporting those undertaking research in core underpinning bioscience.

An innovative and integral element of the programme, built in to enhance the employability of the DTP students, is the requirement for them to undertake a three- month professional internship outside of the lab to widen their experience of the areas of work in which they can apply their PhD skills and training. Destinations for these internships will include policymaking, media, teaching and industry.

Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Director of Innovation and Skills said, “We believe that this approach is a great way of doing things, enabling us to support the very best students working in the most important areas from food security through to crucial underpinning bioscience.

“DTPs are all about training researchers to be the best they can be. By doing this we can make real inroads into answering global conundrums which will ultimately have a massive impact on the UK economy and further afield.”

The DTP funding allows institutions to recruit the best students and secure additional funding from other sources, such as industry or charities to increase the impact of public investment.

The DTPs have been awarded by BBSRC following a competitive process including assessment by BBSRC’s independent Training Awards Committee. Each student in a DTP will have the benefit of working in an excellent research environment but the awarding criteria also focused on the ability of each partnership to provide the best possible training programme.


Links:

BBSRC
UCL Division of Biosciences
King's College London
Royal Veterinary College
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Birkbeck, University of London