Speaking at the University of Reading today, universities and science minister David Willetts announced the names of the partnerships chosen as training centres by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
The doctoral training partnerships (DTPs), involving 44 research organizations, will share £67 million over the next three years to train PhD students and develop biosciences more generally.
The training clusters replace the council’s existing Quota Doctoral Training Grant scheme, which awards studentship funding to 89 departments or faculties at 45 universities.
Partnerships, which will have to reapply for funding every three years, will be expected to align their training with the BBSRC's "strategic priorities" in food security, industrial biotechnology and the bioscience underpinning health.
They will also be expected to develop students' broader scientific and professional skills, with each PhD candidate completing a three-month external internship.
Funded studentships will drop from the current 337 a year to 220, but funding for students' experimental costs will rise from £1,000 to £5,000 a year.
There will be 70 PhD funded by the BBSRC's separate Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering studentships, for PhDs carried out in collaboration with industry.
The council believes the programme will help it protect “major centres of bioscience research training” as its budget declines by around 12 per cent in real terms over the next spending period.
Announcing the centres, Mr Willetts said: “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.”
Martin Buck, professor at Imperial College London’s department of life sciences, which was named as a DTP along with Royal Holloway, University of London, and the Research Complex Harwell, added: “Doctoral students increasingly play a major role in the interface between different research disciplines.
“Being able to cross these interfaces is, in many cases, key to how we tackle major research challenges in the basic and applied sciences.”
The partnerships are:
• University of Bristol in collaboration with University of Bath, University of Exeter and Rothamsted Research
• University of Cambridge in collaboration with Babraham Institute, European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), Animal Health Trust, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and National Institute of Agricultural Botany
• University College London in collaboration with Birkbeck, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Royal Veterinary College and King's College
• University of Edinburgh in collaboration with the universities of Aberdeen, Dundee and St Andrews
• University of Glasgow in collaboration with University of Strathclyde
• Imperial College London in collaboration with Royal Holloway, University of London and Research Complex at Harwell
• John Innes Centre in collaboration with Institute of Food Research, University of East Anglia and the Genome Analysis Centre
• University of Leeds in collaboration with University of York and University of Sheffield
• University of Manchester
• Newcastle University in collaboration with University of Liverpool and University of Durham
• University of Nottingham in collaboration with Rothamsted Research
• University of Oxford
• University of Reading in collaboration with the universities of Surrey, Lancaster and Southampton and Rothamsted Research
• University of Warwick in collaboration with the University of Birmingham and University of Leicester