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Mike Boxall, an independent researcher and consultant on higher education policies and strategies, and a senior adviser to PA Consulting, considers the emerging post-COVID world and its implications for the future of universities. His blog is based on a paper published recently by PA Consulting, and co-authored with its HE lead, Ian Matthias.

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The Westminster government should wake up to the full potential of higher education to help it meet its ‘levelling up’ goals, argues Professor Martin Jones, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Staffordshire University.

Government announces £200m to support engineering and physics PhDs

Funding of over £200 million to support PhD students in engineering and physical sciences and boost the UK’s research into quantum technologies, has been announced today by Universities Minister Jo Johnson.

A £167 million investment in Doctoral Training Partnerships and £37 million investment in the UK’s National Quantum Technologies Programme will support cutting-edge research across the UK and help top students into a PhD.

In an announcement at  the University of Oxford’s Networked Quantum Information Technologies Hub, the minister said funding for quantum technologies 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.

The Doctoral Training Partnerships are being awarded to 40 universities from Southampton to Aberdeen, Cardiff and Belfast and will give around 2,000 students the opportunity of Doctoral study, nurturing scientific and engineering talent in the UK. It will also enable universities to develop new ideas with more research support, so they can then leverage future funding from business and deliver new methods and understanding which will help improve our lives.

"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," Johnson said.

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: Quantum technologies promise to revolutionise the way we live our lives. At Oxford we stand at the forefront of this revolution through our world-class research and training programmes. It is a pleasure to welcome the minister to Oxford to announce support for this key research area, as well as sizeable funding for doctoral places in physics and engineering that will help us continue to train the leading scientists of the future.

The £37 million funding includes investing £25 million in new equipment at 7 university-based quantum institutions, and £12 million to help train researchers starting out their careers in quantum engineering. Together they will help ensure the UK is in a leading position to benefit from the huge potential of quantum engineering for major global industries like computing and consumer electronics.

 

Jo Johnson
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