Universities awarded £19.5 million for overhaul of quantitative social science training

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Fifteen universities across the UK will receive £19.5 million to overhaul their social science teaching over the next five years. This funding comes from Q-Step, an ambitious intervention to address the critical shortage of social scientists with the quantitative skills needed to evaluate evidence and analyse data.

Together with our funding partners, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Nuffield Foundation aim to promote a step-change in quantitative social science training in the UK.

The fifteen universities, selected from a total of 48 who applied, will form a network of ‘Q-Step Centres’, delivering new undergraduate programmes in quantitative social science. These will include the development of new courses, production of new content for existing courses, experimenting with new ways of teaching, as well as work placements and pathways to postgraduate study. We will also see a total of 53 new full time posts created in UK universities as a result of the programme.

The universities receiving Q-Step awards are: University of Bristol, Cardiff University, City University London, University of Edinburgh, University of Exeter, University of Glasgow, University of Kent, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Manchester, University of Oxford, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Sheffield, University of St Andrews, University College London and University of Warwick.

Support programme

Although Q-Step is targeted at undergraduates, our aim is to promote quantitative skills training across the course of the education system, from recruitment of school students to specialist training for those going on to postgraduate work. We will share expertise and resources across the higher education sector through an accompanying support programme, through which we will also forge links with schools and employers.

Selection process and timetable

We are making the awards following an open competition, launched in October last year. Members of the Selection Board were greatly encouraged by the number and high standard of applications, and in light of this we were able to secure an additional £4 million to fund more centres than originally planned, taking the total amount awarded to £19.5 million over five years.

Q-Step Centres will begin planning and rolling out their programme of activities in October 2013, with an immediate focus on recruiting the 53 new posts.

Ministerial support

We were also pleased to have support from Q-Step from the Universities and Science Minister David Willetts, who said: “Evaluating and analysing data is an essential part of science education and we need more people with these important skills. Q-Step will deliver an exciting programme, increasing the number of skilled graduates in quantitative social science. By sharing expertise and resources across the education sector, this programme is a step in the right direction to give students the skills they need and help employers build long lasting relationships with universities.”

For more information about Q-Step, visit www.nuffieldfoundation.org/q-step

Nuffield Foundation

The Nuffield Foundation is a charitable trust endowed by William Morris, Lord Nuffield, the founder of Morris Motors. Our aim is to improve social well-being in the widest sense, primarily by funding research and innovation in education and social policy. We also work to build capacity in education, science and social science research.

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