Life Sciences

Investment will help nurture next generation of scientists

The UK government has announced plans to invest £350 million into the training of the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Much has been made about skills shortages in these sectors and the authorities are keen to encourage more youngsters to take vocational courses at university. 

The money – which is being provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council – will be shared across 24 universities around the country. 

A total of 70 new centres for doctoral training will be established as part of the scheme and it is hoped that 3,500 graduates will benefit from the investment. 

Universities minister David Willetts said it is important that educational institutions form closer relationships with businesses in the long term. 

"Scientists and engineers are vital to our economy and society. It is their talent and imagination, as well as their knowledge and skills, that inspire innovation and drive growth across a range of sectors, from manufacturing to financial services," he commented. 

Four of the centres have been allocated to the University of Manchester, much to the delight of Professor Colin Bailey, vice-president and dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

He said the university's strength in engineering, as well as physical, medical and life sciences was a major factor behind the government's decision to award the facility with four of the new training complexes. 

"This additional funding will mean we can train more of the UK's scientists and engineers of the future," Mr Bailey remarked. 

Meanwhile, Glasgow's University of Strathclyde will host three of the centres and will be a partner in two others. 

Students will now be able to learn more about future power networks and smart grids, wind and marine energy systems and medical devices and health technologies.

It is hoped this latest government initiative will help to establish Britain as a world leader in engineering and pharmaceutical research and development in particular, which will give the nation's economy a real shot in the arm.