UK government names 16 AI doctoral training centres

One thousand PhD places to be created over next five years

February 21, 2019

The UK government has announced the locations of 16 new centres for doctoral training specialising in artificial intelligence, as part of a bid to maintain the country’s edge as a world leader in the field.

The centres, housed in 14 universities, will support 1,000 students over five years. UK Research and Innovation is providing £100 million of funding, with industry partners including Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Rolls-Royce contributing £78 million. Partner universities are offering £23 million.

The announcement follows a series of recommendations outlined in an AI industry review led by Dame Wendy Hall, Regius professor of computer science at the University of Southampton.

The review report, published in April last year, highlighted investment in skills as key to generating future jobs and attracting talent to the UK. It included the proposal for “an additional 200 doctoral studentships in AI and related disciplines a year”.

Now confirmed, each doctoral training centre is expected to host more than 60 students. A research fellowship programme has also been launched with the Alan Turing Institute, which is offering up to five, five-year positions to established researchers across the same time frame.

In addition, up to 200 new AI master’s places are set to be made available in September, funded by industry partners. “The Office for Artificial Intelligence is working with the Institute of Coding and the British Computer Society to identify viable AI master’s courses, and then connect universities with industry partners who are keen to fund these new places,” a government statement said.

Dame Wendy said that the initiatives followed her recommendations well and would “provide a great impetus to developing AI skills and talent”.

Sir Mark Walport, the chief executive of UKRI, said: “Artificial intelligence is a disruptive technology in a range of sectors, enabling new products and services and transforming data science. It allows us to develop new approaches to challenges as diverse as early disease diagnosis and climate change.

“To maintain its leadership in AI, the UK will need a new generation of researchers, business leaders and entrepreneurs equipped with new skills,” he continued. “Working with partners across academia and industry, the centres announced today will provide the foundations for these future leaders.”

The 16 doctoral training centres are:

  • University of Bath: UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Accountable, Responsible and Transparent AI
  • University of Bristol: UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Interactive Artificial Intelligence
  • University of Cambridge: UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Application of Artificial Intelligence to the Study of Environmental Risks (AI4ER)
  • University of Edinburgh: UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Biomedical Artificial Intelligence; UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Natural Language Processing
  • University of Exeter: UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Environmental Intelligence: Data Science & AI for Sustainable Futures
  • University of Glasgow: UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Socially Intelligent Artificial Agents (SOCIAL)
  • Imperial College London: UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Artificial Intelligence for Healthcare
  • King’s College London: UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Safe and Trusted Artificial Intelligence
  • University of Leeds: UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Artificial Intelligence for Medical Diagnosis and Care
  • Queen Mary University of London: UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Artificial Intelligence and Music
  • University of Sheffield: UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Speech and Language Technologies and their Applications
  • University of Southampton: UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Machine Intelligence for Nano-electronic Devices and Systems
  • Swansea University: UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Advanced Computing
  • UCL: UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in Foundational Artificial Intelligence; UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in AI-enabled healthcare systems

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