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Manchester gets £20 million science training boost

05 Dec 2008

The University of Manchester has been awarded £20 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research (EPSRC) to train a new wave of scientists and engineers.

A postgraduate in action
A postgraduate in action

Minister of State for Science and Innovation, Lord Drayson, has announced the £250 million initiative, which will establish 44 centres for doctoral training across the UK and generate over 2,000 PhD students over five years.

These centres will tackle some of the biggest problems currently facing Britain such as climate change, energy, our ageing population, and high-tech crime.

The new initiative will provide a radical alternative to the traditional 'lone scholar' PhD route, with a cohort of ten doctoral students undertaking activities, projects and transferable skills training together each year.

The University of Manchester will lead three of the 44 training centres – there were 91 proposals from leading universities – including one for Nanoscience with support from Lancaster University.

An industrial training centre for Nuclear Engineering is being led by Manchester in conjunction with Imperial College, The University of Bristol, The University of Leeds, The University of Sheffield and The University of Strathclyde.

Manchester is also leading a training centre for nuclear fission research in partnership with The University of Sheffield.

A training centre for advanced metallic systems will be led by The University of Sheffield in partnership with The University of Manchester.

Professor Nigel Vincent, Associate Vice President for Graduate Education at The University of Manchester, said: “The linking of world-class research and world-class doctoral education is key to The University of Manchester's vision. Our success in the doctoral training centres competition both recognises and advances that ambition.

“This success will allow us to build stronger and better links at graduate level both with other leading national and international institutions and with industry.”

EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training are described as ‘a bold new approach’ to training PhD students, creating communities of researchers working on current and future challenges.

Professor Vincent added: “The training centres are a key component of the newly formed Manchester Doctoral College, which will enhance Manchester's position as a leader in graduate education both nationally and internationally.”

Professor Jon Billowes, who is leading the Industrial Doctoral Centre in Nuclear Engineering said:“The programme will help to fill the existing skills gaps in nuclear-related disciplines and ensure that future nuclear plants are regulated, built and operated safely, reliably and efficiently.”

Professor Francis Livens, who heads up the Nuclear Fission Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Doctoral Training Centre at Manchester, said: “The new centre will allow us to train the next generation of research leaders to tackle the complex, multidisciplinary challenges that the nuclear industry presents.”

Dr Irina Grigorieva, Director of the North West Nanoscience Doctoral Training Centre, said:“We will build on the world-leading expertise in all nanoscience to offer a broad interdisciplinary doctoral training centre. Our primary objective is to create a group of scientists, engineers and clinicians who think instinctively in a cross-disciplinary fashion.”

Lord Drayson said: “Britain faces many challenges in the 21st Century and needs scientists and engineers with the right skills to find answers to these challenges, build a strong economy and keep us globally competitive. EPSRC’s doctoral training centres will provide a new wave of engineers and scientists to do the job.

“These new centres will help to develop clean renewable energy, fight high tech crime, assist in reducing carbon emissions, and discover new healthcare solutions for an ageing population.  This is an exciting, innovative approach to training young researchers and will help build a better future for Britain.”

Notes for editors

Prof Nigel Vincent is available for comment by arrangement.

For more information on the training centres at The University of Manchester, please call Alex Waddington on 0161 275 8387 or 07717 881569.

EPSRC Press Office
Tel: 01793 444404

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the main UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences, investing around £740 million a year in a broad range of subjects – from mathematics to materials science, and from information technology to structural engineering.