Cybersecurity is among the core focuses of a new £179m PhD funding package announced today by the UK government that is designed to enhance research in key science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields.

This funding takes the form of Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs), which will see the government support up to 11,000 students through PhDs at 40 universities in the UK.

Leading the way will be four pilot projects, including DTPs at the University of Southampton to encourage novel research into cybersecurity and defence systems that can effectively protect the UK. These will focus both on cybersecurity and wider digital security through areas such as control systems for drones.

The other pilots projects include support for research into sustainable technologies at Brunel University London; enhancing data science research at Queen Mary University of London and developing efficient and sustainable chemical manufacturing at the University of York.

Further DTPs will be rolled out at other universities in 2020 and 2021.

Government PhD funding underscores STEM focus

The £179m PhD funding package highlights the ongoing focus on STEM subjects by the UK government as it seeks to build a post-Brexit economy that is fuelled by technology and finance.

Experts have frequently pointed to skills shortages when it comes to these areas that jeopardise the government’s plans, which may explain why it has decided to introduce this new PhD funding package.

“Today’s funding will support the talented people we have in this country to study these vital subjects, develop technologies for the future and support the UK’s status as a science superpower,” said Business Secretary Alok Sharma of the announcement.

Some of the £179m will also be applied to attracting and supporting candidates from non-academic backgrounds, and the government has also announced an £8.9m package to continue funding existing science education programmes in the UK.

“Making sure that the next generation has the scientific skills to meet the world’s needs – from developing green technologies to curing illnesses – couldn’t be more important,” said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

“That’s why we continue to invest in science programmes in our schools and ensure that anyone, regardless of their background, can participate.”


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