Universities combine to create doctoral training centre for social sciences

A successful collaboration between the Universities of Sheffield, Leeds and York is set to lead to the creation of one of the UK's biggest doctoral training centres for postgraduate researchers in the social sciences.

The consortium won approval from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for its 'outstanding' bid to form the White Rose Doctoral Training Centre (DTC), which from October 2011 will make 48 studentships per annum available for the next five years.

Postgraduate students will be trained in a new environment which enables them not only to work across disciplines but across institutions. This will open up a range of training opportunities that cover advanced research skills as well as developing them as social scientists and highly skilled employees. White Rose research students will be trained in one of the largest and most vibrant research communities in the country.

The White Rose DTC will build on the collective strengths of 1,340 academics in 56 social sciences departments in the three universities. Academic leadership of the DTC is shared across all three institutions, with the University of Sheffield taking the administrative lead.

Together, the three universities' combined research income for the social sciences exceeded £181 million over the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) period. The White Rose DTC joins a network of just 21 DTCs.

Dr Julian White, Chief Executive of the White Rose University Consortium, said: "The White Rose DTC will further enhance our ability to address societal grand challenges including in areas of environment and sustainability, health and wellbeing and security and justice.

"The DTC contributes to our wider strategic ambitions to work together to enhance the social science research base across the region in order to make a major contribution to global society."

Professor Martin Smith, Director of Research and Innovation for the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield, said: "The White Rose DTC is recognition that within the three universities we have one of the leading centres for the training of postgraduate researchers. It is a reflection of the strength of our social science research that we have been awarded this centre."

Professor Anne Kerr, from the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds, said: "By combining the expertise of the White Rose universities, the DTC will deliver excellent supervision, first class training and vibrant intellectual environments for postgraduate research students. It will enable them to participate in our national and international networks of industrial partners, opinion formers, policy makers and academics, and will produce doctoral graduates with outstanding skills and flexibility."

Professor Andrew Webster, Academic Coordinator of Social Sciences from the University of York, said: "This is a path-breaking programme in doctoral research training, combining the outstanding scholarship and resources of the three White Rose Universities. The quality of the student experience, engagement with world-leading researchers and supervisors , and a novel, exciting and challenging training programme will ensure our doctoral students will develop the skills needed for their future careers, and build long-lasting networks across the three universities."

Notes for Editors: The Research Assessment Exercise was conducted jointly by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland (DEL). The primary purpose of the RAE was to produce quality profiles for each submission of research activity made by institutions.

For further information please contact: Shemina Davis, Media Relations Officer, on 0114 2225339 or email shemina.davis@sheffield.ac.uk