This has been a busy year for the Wales Doctoral Training Partnership – Director David James provides a roundup of the latest developments:
A record number of new studentships
The summer of 2017 saw us make the final steps in the transition from the ESRC Wales DTC to the new ESRC Wales DTP. This represents a substantial shift from four to six institutions, and from 16 to 20 accredited pathways. It is also a move to a simpler ‘match funding’ model, where almost all studentships are awarded using a 50/50 split between Research Council and institutional resources, with the latter often supplemented by external funding. We ran new ‘collaborative’ and ‘general’ competitions in the six months up to April 2017, and the first cohort under the new arrangements begin their programmes in October: there are 65 of them, the largest group to date.
‘Industrial Strategy’ studentships
Four of the new studentships listed above are rather unusual: they are the outcome of a separate additional competition for a one-off resource, secured in late April by ESRC, for research and research capacity to support the Westminster Industrial Strategy. These are entirely funded by the ESRC and bring in around £300k of further funding.
Studentships commencing in 2018
We are now very busy with the many processes that will lead to the next tranche of studentships commencing in 2018. The collaborative competition was launched in July and pathways can bid by the end of October 2017. As part of this competition, the DTP has negotiated arrangements with the Welsh Government, Health and Care Research Wales, and Qualifications Wales, which together will co-fund up to 8 studentships. As this year, the collaborative competition will be followed by a general studentship competition, with all studentships advertised to potential applicants from mid November with a deadline of 1 February.
Post Doctoral Fellowships
During the last few months the DTP has also been busy helping to shape ESRC plans for a new Post Doctoral Fellowships (PDF) scheme. Our business case was approved with only one minor condition, and we will oversee and manage a process in which the first PDFs will take up position from October 2018. Whilst we don’t yet know for certain how many will be funded, we are delighted to be part of an attempt to provide a vehicle to assist some of the best new researchers to become established as early career researchers.
Collaboration in doctoral education
The DTP continues to promote and facilitate doctoral education that includes various forms of collaboration with non-academic organisations, from internships through to projects being co-conceived and having ongoing engagement built-in. Collaboration of this kind has become a strong element of our practice and identity, and although we recognise that such arrangements are not appropriate or helpful in all doctoral projects, this is a distinctive feature of the outstanding research environments of many of our 20 pathways. As well as forming a central plank of the DTP bid last year, this point underpinned our earlier successful application to be part of Cardiff University’s Social Science Research Park (SPARK), which is expected to be fully up and running in 2020.
The DTP produces a regular monthly electronic newsletter, for students, supervisors, pathway convenors, PGR professional staff, collaborating organisations and others who are interested. If you are not already a recipient, it’s easy to sign up.