Budget 2017: £250 million allocated to PhD places and fellowships

Chancellor Philip Hammond allocates previously announced industrial strategy funding

March 8, 2017
Downing Street

The UK will allocate previously announced extra funding for research to streams including 1,000 new PhD places in mainly science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects, the chancellor has said.

Philip Hammond’s spring Budget, revealed on 8 March, included the allocation of £250 million over the next four years to “high-skilled research talent”, as well as separate and already announced funding to attract researchers to the UK from “emerging research powerhouses like India, China, Brazil and Mexico”.

Mr Hammond also said in his speech that a forthcoming White Paper “will ask universities and private schools to sponsor new free schools”. This follows plans previously announced by Theresa May, the prime minister, for universities to run schools.

The Budget “red book” published following Mr Hammond’s speech confirmed details of spending from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, announced in last year’s Autumn Statement.

There will be a £270 million initial investment in 2017-18 to “kick-start the development of disruptive technologies that have the potential to transform the UK economy”, including next generation electric vehicles, artificial intelligence and robotics “that will operate in extreme and hazardous environments, including off-shore energy, nuclear energy, space and deep mining”, and “accelerating patient access to new drugs and treatments through developing brand new medicine manufacturing technologies, helping to improve public health”.

The Budget document also says that £250 million will be invested over the next four years via the larger National Productivity Investment Fund, also announced in the Autumn Statement, in research talent. This includes £90 million for “an additional 1,000 PhD places in areas aligned with the industrial strategy”, along with “a further £160 million [which] will support new fellowships for early and mid-career researchers in areas aligned to the industrial strategy”.

The Budget document says that there will be £50 million over the next four years “for fellowship programmes to attract global talent”, adding that £50 million “from existing international funds will support fellowships that attract researchers to the UK from emerging research powerhouses like India, China, Brazil and Mexico”.

Pam Tatlow, chief executive of the MillionPlus mission group, said that the additional funding for research and PhD places was “welcome”.

But she added: “If the industrial strategy is to deliver on the government’s ambitions, much more investment will be required to promote innovation in the regions and replace the loss of European structural and regional funds.”

john.morgan@tesglobal.com

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