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Ulster University joins €6.5m initiative to fund student mobility

Ulster University will be providing more opportunities at doctoral level for students as part of the University Alliance’s Doctoral Training Alliance (DTA) following a multi-million Euro award from the European Union

Ulster will be welcoming up to three new doctoral opportunities in the first year of the programme, to undertake projects in ‘Public Order Policing in Post-Conflict Societies’; ‘Reforming Kleptocracy through Shock Therapy: A Social Harm Assessment’ and ‘Strengthening Civil Society in Central Asia’.

The new opportunities created through the programme are advertised at https://unialliance.ac.uk/dta/cofund/

University Alliance’s project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sktodowska-Curie grant agreement No 801604. The funding will enable student mobility and integrate the DTA’s three disciplinary areas across applied biosciences for health, energy and social policy. It will create more than 80 fellowships at 15 participating institutions – including Ulster University, developing a cohort of early-stage researchers over two intakes.

University Alliance’s successful bid was the only winning British entry in the funding round, out of five UK-based applications, and is one of eight programmes across Europe to win support narrowed down from 29 bidders. It scored the highest out of any successful bid in the ‘impact’, ‘excellence’ and ‘quality and efficiency’ judging categories.

The DTA, which is the UK’s largest doctoral training programme of its kind, was launched in 2015 to create a new model closely aligned to industrial strategy and priority challenges, producing industry-ready graduates. Collaboration with industry and civil society is at the heart of the DTA, with business and third sector representatives including the Big Lottery Fund, Philips International and Legal & General providing external quality assurance and monitoring.

The flexibility of the DTA model means it is well aligned to the need for more opportunities at doctoral level for students from a wide range of backgrounds – the diversity profile of DTA students compares favourably to Research Council-supported schemes, across both gender and ethnicity. A higher percentage are in the 30-39 age bracket and 64% of DTA students are aged 25 or above.

Markus Ketola, Research Director in the School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences, and Ulster’s DTA Programme lead, explains:

“At Ulster, we offer a range of PhD research opportunities to applicants under the University's key strategic research themes, and through the Doctoral Training Alliance (DTA3), which is a consortium of 15 universities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we are delighted to have secured funding for two additional research programmes.

Over the next two years, this EU-funded programme will enable us to attract four further high calibre PhD researchers who can avail of excellent training and support from our world class researchers to ensure success in their chosen research within the School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences.”

Professor John Latham, University Alliance Chair, commented:

“This major external funding award is a prestigious a stamp of approval for University Alliance’s Doctoral Training Alliance (DTA) model and demonstrates its distinctiveness and strengths.

The DTA programme responds to the needs of industry and the challenges facing society, training independent, highly-employable researchers with relevant skills and expertise to thrive in strategically important sectors.  The success of our proposal reflects that.

As the DTA – the UK’s largest multi-institution partnership of its kind – goes from strength to strength, it is fantastic that this funding will enable the programme to attract talent from overseas and operate internationally. The opportunities being created will add to UK research and innovation ecosystem and help us stay competitive.”