White Rose Universities lead £16.8m investment in world-class postgraduate research training

The Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York will provide future social science postgraduate students with the highest quality doctoral research training thanks to a £16.8 million investment from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

The new White Rose Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership (WRDTP) builds on the success of the existing White Rose Doctoral Training Centre by bringing into this collaboration the social sciences research excellence of the Universities of Hull, Bradford, Sheffield Hallam University and Manchester Metropolitan University.

Postgraduate students will benefit from being able to access the highest quality research training in the social sciences. The innovative new scheme builds on the current offer for PhD applicants to also include opportunities to work with non-academic partners, build links with city regions, and conduct truly collaborative and interdisciplinary research.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield and Chair of the White Rose University Consortium, said: “This is tremendous news for social sciences research in the North of England.”

Sir Keith, who is also a member of the Board of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, particularly welcomed the emphasis on projects which will benefit the wider region.

“Postgraduate students studying across the North of England will benefit from being able to access the highest quality research training in the social sciences,” he said.

“The new scheme includes opportunities to build links with city regions, and to work with others such as hospitals and industry in a truly collaborative and interdisciplinary way which will change lives.”

The new WRDTP is one of 14 new ESRC accredited partnerships across the UK and will offer training in seven interdisciplinary themed training pathways, providing 38 fully-funded studentships a year for six years. This further cements the reputation of the White Rose Universities as leaders in world-class social science research and doctoral training.

The training specifically focuses on providing skills such as: working in interdisciplinary teams; working alongside international partners; handling different forms of data through mixed methods; and collaborating with others to develop impactful research.

Professor Jane Elliott, ESRC Chief Executive, said: “Our new Doctoral Training Network will assure our students’ futures as research leaders by providing them with valuable skills including capabilities in communication, project-management and collaboration within and beyond academia.”

The scheme was highly commended by peer reviewers as truly innovative and world-leading, building a dynamic postgraduate training environment through cross-university events, cutting-edge online learning platforms, and providing unique links between social sciences, humanities and STEM subjects.

Professor Martin Jones, Director of the White Rose Doctoral Training Centre and Principal Investigator on the WRDTP bid, University of Sheffield, said: “We are delighted and proud to be recognised by Government and the ESRC for our outstanding and well-evidenced approach to enhancing the postgraduate student experience. Our strategy correlates to the ESRC’s strategic priorities and deepens the social science research strategies of the seven universities. We will deliver a unique interdisciplinary and thematic student experience that will facilitate ground-breaking doctoral research beyond traditional discipline boundaries, enabling our students to develop holistic understandings of the grand challenges that face society and how these can be addressed by the social sciences. I am looking forward to working with our new colleagues from Bradford, Sheffield Hallam, Hull, and Manchester Metropolitan and to meeting the new WRDTP students when they start next year.”

The first cohort of students will commence their studies in October 2017.