Following on from the announcement of the accreditation of a new North West Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership (NWSSDTP) in July, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has now confirmed that the partnership will receive more than £18million in funding, which will enable the NWSSDTP to award a minimum of 41 postgraduate studentships a year, for the next six years.

This new partnership builds on the existing North West Doctoral Training Centre (NWDTC), a consortium involving Lancaster University, the University of Liverpool and the University of Manchester and includes a new partner, Keele University. Accredited in 2011, the NWDTC has funded 430 postgraduate students over six cohorts of students. The last cohort of ESRC funded students is due to start this October. In addition to the facilities at the partner institutions, NWDTC funded students have been able to access additional funding and support towards fieldwork, overseas institutional visits and internship opportunities.

“I applied for funding back in 2012. One of the things I found very developmental about the whole thing was being part of a consortium – being part of a funding network – giving you the opportunity to engage with different researchers and to also engage with different workshops as well. I found that really helpful in terms of my development as a student.”

Andrew McCaldon, NWDTC-funded postgraduate student in Politics at the University of Liverpool

The NWDTC supports advanced training provision through theMethods North West platform and the exchange of modules between the constituent universities, accessible to all students within the three institutions. The NWDTC has also had considerable success in developing studentship opportunities which are co-supervised with non-HEI partner organisations such as Unilever, Save The Children and the Office for National Statistics. 25% of the postgraduate studentships awarded since 2011 have been collaborative studentships.

The involvement of Keele in the new consortium adds capability in policy-relevant interdisciplinary areas and increases the reach of the NWSSDTP, enabling the DTP to provide access to ESRC training and funding to a wider range of social science students. The NWSSDTP will build on the progress made by the NWDTC, extending its support for collaborative studentships and internship opportunities and further developing the training available through the shared training platform Methods North West.

The University of Liverpool will lead the partnership, with the central NWSSDTP office being based in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

 ‘The four partners worked together very closely in assembling the bid and we are delighted with the outcome. The funding of the NWSSDTP by the ESRC represents a significant investment in training in the North West region and we are very much looking forward to a new phase of collaboration which further cements the strong relationship between the HEIs. Our ambition over the next six years is to work more intensively with external agencies to boost our knowledge transfer activities and increase opportunities for PGRs. We will be seeking to further develop collaborative training opportunities with other investments and Centres including the AHRC NWCDTP, the N8 partnership and other newly accredited ESRC DTPs. By leveraging the social science strength in the constituent universities the NWSSDTP will operate as a key national provider of expertise-led training, developing future research leaders and contributing toward social science building capacity in the UK’.

Professor Gabe Mythen, Director of the partnership

The NWSSDTP website and the first round of NWSSDTP studentship competitions, will launch in October. The first competition, closing in January 2017, is an opportunity for academics to propose collaborative PhD studentships with non-HEI partner organisations. The second funding opportunity is for prospective students to apply themselves for funding towards their postgraduate studies, and this will close in February 2017. Further details of these studentship competitions will be available shortly.