£100m investment in environmental science doctoral training

05 Nov 2013

The University of Manchester will be one of the universities to share in £100 million of new investment in 15 Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) for environmental science PhD students, Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts has announced.

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funding will support 1,200 PhD students across the 15 partnerships, meaning at least 240 new students will begin training every year for five years, with the opportunity for partners to co-fund, boosting the number of studentships available.

The 15 partnerships include collaborations between 38 UK higher education institutions and 280 partner organisations. The University of Manchester partnership includes the University of Liverpool, NOC, BGS, the Met Office, NCAS, BP Alternative Energy, Diamond Light Source and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority Radioactive Waste Management Directorate (RWMD).

Professor Geraint Vaughan, from the University of Manchester’s School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, said: "We are delighted to be able to offer an exciting new PhD programme, with our partners in Liverpool, to develop multidisciplinary opportunities for research training in the areas of atmospheric, ocean, Earth and environmental sciences. The new NERC DTP will give students the foundation they need for a research career at the leading-edge of science at a time when we face unprecedented environmental challenges."

The strong focus on collaboration within and between the DTPs allows partners to pool their experience to create rich training environments for students and encourage knowledge-sharing and interconnectivity, which benefits environmental science researchers.

The DTPs will offer postgraduate studentships and training across the full range of NERC’s disciplines, and in multidisciplinary environments, helping to enrich the student experience. Each DTP will create a strong and active community of students that are able – and encouraged – to integrate, work, and learn together. These students will receive in-depth, advanced research training, as well as training in the professional and transferable skills essential in today’s economy.

An integral element of the NERC DTP programme is that a minimum of 30% (or 360) of the students will work with and undertake research projects that are directly relevant to non-academic partners. This will help keep the UK at the forefront of research training, and provide students with the training experience they need to enter a wide range of careers.

Science and Universities minister David Willetts said: “This significant investment highlights the Government’s commitment to supporting postgraduate training and research in the environmental sciences. We're dedicated to providing the next generation of environmental researchers with the necessary skills and training to succeed in academia and industry.

"The strong support for this programme from a number of international partners such as BP, Microsoft and Arup is enormously encouraging. Not only will this initiative benefit students, UK research organisations, business, industry and the economy, it will keep us at the forefront of the global science race.”

Professor Duncan Wingham, chief executive of NERC, said: “If UK environmental sciences are going to continue to prosper, we need to make sure we get the best from our students. These DTPs position us to compete in an increasingly competitive global environment by training students in the best possible way to use environmental sciences to help meet the challenges and opportunities facing us today.”


Notes for editors

About NERC:

NERC is the largest funder of environmental science in the UK. We invest £330m in cutting-edge research, training and knowledge transfer in the environmental sciences. Our scientists study and monitor the whole planet, from pole to pole, and from the deep Earth and oceans to the edge of space. We address and respond to critical issues such as environmental hazards, resource security and environmental change. Through collaboration with other science disciplines, with UK business and with policy-makers, we make sure our knowledge and skills support sustainable economic growth and public wellbeing - reducing risks to health, infrastructure, supply chains and our changing environment. www.nerc.ac.uk, @NERCscience

Further information contact:

Tamera Jones
NERC press office,

Tel: 01793 411561
Mob: 07917 557215
Email: pressoffice@nerc.ac.uk 

Or Aeron Haworth
Media Relations
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
The University of Manchester

Tel: 0161 275 8387
Mob: 07717 881563
Email: aeron.haworth@manchester.ac.uk