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Full STEAM ahead

Birmingham City University has announced its £3m investment into PhD students

Posted by Hannah Oakman | June 21, 2016 | Finance, legal, HR

Birmingham City University has announced the largest investment into doctoral research scholarships in the institution’s 173-year history.

The scholarships will create new subject knowledge and power cultural, societal and economic improvements in the West Midlands.

£3 million will be invested to fully-fund new PhD students to carry out high-quality strategic research that will underpin the University’s teaching and learning, and support collaborations with organisations in the region.

Birmingham City University is already renowned for world-leading research in the creative Arts, which, when coupled with the Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) creates multi-disciplinary capability referred to as ‘STEAM’.

Collaboration across academic disciplines is recognised as essential to address complex global challenges and to create new solutions, products and services.

The £3 million investment will fund 50 doctoral students, known as STEAM Scholars, to study for a doctorate in key research priority areas within and across the University’s four Faculties, working with the institution’s academics and collaborating with regional organisations.

The STEAM investment complements existing investments in funding PhD students including the Midlands 3 Cities doctoral training partnership funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The new knowledge our STEAM Scholars generate will not only inform our own curriculum, but their work will power collaborative research and innovation activities with external organisations

Places have been made available for the new STEAM Scholars to take up their studies from September 2016 and complements initiatives to make the University’s research and expertise available to the business community through projects like STEAMhouse and BCU Advantage.

STEAMhouse is a £14 million initiative which will see Birmingham’s old Typhoo Tea factory in Digbeth transformed into a collaborative working centre for businesses and academics, with a focus on connecting the arts with science, technology and maths to support economic growth and create up to 10,000 jobs.

The BCU Advantage scheme offers organisations and start-ups access to funding opportunities and advice from University experts, as well as providing students and graduates with contacts, training and employment opportunities. 

Professor Julian Beer, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Birmingham City University, said: “Right now, Birmingham and the West Midlands are going through an unprecedented period of change.

“The Combined Authority has just been launched and we are one of the country’s most significant hotspots for new start-up businesses. All of this means we have some genuinely unique opportunities to link the University, its expertise and its research to what is happening in the City and our investment in 50 new PhD students is integral to this.

“This is a level of investment which we have never made before, but it is absolutely vital that we make the most of the new opportunities presenting themselves which can be of significant benefit not just to the students, but to local businesses and the West Midlands economy as a whole.”

Earlier this year the government placed an increased importance on postgraduate research studies such as Master’s degrees and PhDs, with the introduction of postgraduate loans for the first time.

They believe that the move will be vital to increasing the skill set and knowledge base of the UK workforce, while research has also shown that workers with postgraduate qualifications on average earn £8,000 more a year than those who only hold degrees.

Professor Keith Osman, Director of Research, Birmingham City University, added: “Birmingham City University is serious about research and we are committed to a ‘Better, Bigger, Broader’ strategy to expand research excellence across all our academic subjects. The new knowledge our STEAM Scholars generate will not only inform our own curriculum, but their work will power collaborative research and innovation activities with external organisations.

“We are dedicated in ensuring our research has significant impact and delivers social, cultural and economic benefits across our region and beyond.”

For more information about the STEAM Scholars initiative visit: www.bcu.ac.uk/research/research-students/opportunities

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