Oxford at centre of new STEM funding

The University of Oxford has received £13.5 million in new funding for DPhil students in engineering and physical sciences.

The announcement was made on 1st March by universities and science minister Jo Johnson to the University of Oxford’s Networked Quantum Information Technologies Hub. Additional funding will also be geared towards further developing research into quantum technologies.

The endowment could place Oxford at the forefront of British science and help advance technologies used to deliver products for anything from more accurate brain-scanning and earlier Alzheimer’s diagnosis to smaller and more powerful computers.

The funding comes as part of The Doctoral Training Partnerships which has been awarded to 40 universities including Southampton, Aberdeen, Cardiff and Belfast. The scheme will benefi t over 2,000 students. The funding is a national investment in science totalling £204 million, with £167 million for Doctoral Training Partnerships and £37 million as part of the UK’s National Quantum Technologies Programme.

Jo Johnson’s announcement was followed with a warning that Britain must remain in the European Union in order to continue receiving certain funding. Johnson said in his speech, “We are committed to securing the UK’s position as a world leader in science and innovation. The government is ensuring major new discoveries happen here, such as the creation of super-powerful quantum computers which scientists are working on in Oxford. This new funding builds on our protection for science spending by supporting research in our world-leading universities and helping to train the science leaders of tomorrow.

“It’s hugely important that we continue to benefi t from our share of the funding fl ows that we get from the EU and that we remain a networked science superpower.

“Our European partnerships are some of the most successful of our science collaborations and we want to support those.”

While visiting the University, Jo Johnson was shown laboratory and workshop facilities and met some doctoral students at the University’s Networked Quantum Information Technologies (NQIT) Hub and Mobile Robotics Group.

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Professor Ian Walmsley, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research, told Cherwell, “The funding announced by the government is a very welcome investment in the future of science and technology for the nation. At Oxford, it will support the best postgraduate research students from across the UK to work with leading academics and researchers on cutting edge projects from quantum physics to robotics and from molecular synthesis to novel materials.”

Andrew Briggs, Professor of Nanomaterial and head of Oxford’s quantum technology investment, shared the sentiment. He told Cherwell, “The government funding for £270m for quantum research builds on the national capacity created during the Quantum Information Processing Interdisciplinary Collaboration. Oxford continues to be a leading player in quantum technologies, nationally and internationally.

“The grant to Oxford this week for a facility which I shall direct will signifi cantly accelerate the route to practical technology and industrial innovation, by enabling us to test working quantum components in a simulated whole environment.”

Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson welcomed Johnson’s visit, saying in a statement released on the Oxford University website, “Quantum technologies promise to revolutionise the way we live our lives. At Oxford we stand at the forefront of this revolution through our world-class research and training programmes.

“It is a pleasure to welcome the Minister to Oxford to announce support for this key research area, as well as signifi cant funding for doctoral places in engineering and physical sciences that will help us continue to train the leading scientists of the future.”