Maddalaine Ansell, chief executive, and Professor Paul Harrison, the National Director of the Doctoral Training Alliance were interviewed by THE ahead of the initiative’s launch last week.
Maddalaine Ansell, chief executive of the University Alliance, said she hoped that research councils would be persuaded to contribute towards the initiative if it proves to be effective.
“We hope we can show to the research councils that our institutions have strengths and that, working together, they can create the critical mass required for effective doctoral training,” she said.
“It would not be very good if people could only do doctoral training in research-intensive universities because it may be more convenient for them [to study locally], and it’s known that having students progressing through university to PhD is good for the student experience,” she added.
The new PhD opportunities in applied biosciences for health would also benefit industry, as there is a relative lack of doctoral provision in the area, Ms Ansell continued.
University Alliance institutions were among the strongest in this discipline, according to the results of last year’s research excellence framework, she pointed out.
Paul Harrison, pro vice-chancellor for research and innovation at Sheffield Hallam University and the national director of the Doctoral Training Alliance, said that the training model would encourage PhD students to exchange ideas and support each other.
The PhD is often seen as a very lonely way to study,” Professor Harrison said. But he added that “every student on the scheme will come together for summer schools and postgraduate conferences to discuss their project plans and discuss how they are going”. The networking opportunities would also benefit PhD supervisors, he said.
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