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White Rose universities awarded funding to nurture next generation of skilled researchers

Posted on 15 August 2018

The Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York have been awarded funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to support 240 PhD students over five years.

The doctoral training programme will be provided by the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH) – a collaboration between the three universities, directed by the University of York.

Seventy-two higher education institutions across the UK will share more than £170 million over eight years as part of the second round of funding for arts and humanities Doctoral Training Partnerships.

The award to WRoCAH will support 240 fully-funded PhD students in the arts and humanities over five years, with the first cohort starting in October 2019. 


The award extends the funding for WRoCAH, which was set up with a grant from AHRC in 2013.

The renewed support from AHRC reflects the strength of research and teaching in the arts and humanities at the universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York and the strong intellectual and organisational structure created through the White Rose University Consortium.

The funding will be supplemented by a further investment from the three Russell Group universities.

PhD programmes offered by WRoCAH are designed to foster a more collaborative and global approach to doctoral training and will equip high-achieving individuals with the skills and experience to become leaders in their chosen fields.

The PhD students will work closely with leading external organisations from sectors including museums, galleries, archives and libraries; arts and heritage organisations; the creative industries; design, manufacturing and retail; publishing and performing arts; media, and charities and the public sector.

All of the students supported by the award will complete researcher employability, knowledge exchange and internationalisation projects during their studies.

Professor Edward Harcourt, the AHRC's Director of Research, Strategy and Innovation, said: “The AHRC is delighted to announce its renewed commitment to the Doctoral Training Partnerships model. Our support for the next generation of arts and humanities researchers is critical to securing the future of the UK arts and humanities sector, which accounts for nearly a third of all UK academic staff, is renowned the world over for its outstanding quality, and which plays a vital part in our higher education ecosystem as a whole.

“We were extremely pleased with the response to our call, which saw high-quality applications from across the UK from a variety of diverse and innovative consortia, each with a clear strategy and vision for the future support of their doctoral students.”


Professor Judith Buchanan, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of York, said: “Across the past five years, the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities, ably led by Professor Julian Richards, has selected and supported brilliant emerging academics and leaders in adjacent fields.

“This new grant from the AHRC has been awarded as a result of the vision and work of a fine bid team from across our three universities, led by Professor Tom Stoneham.

“We are delighted about the renewed and expanded work with future cohorts of gifted, intellectually ambitious, imaginative and hard-working doctoral researchers that this award will now make possible.

“We believe strongly that the contribution made by the humanities to the enrichment of society is vital for our collective health, our informed understanding of ourselves, our past, our fast-changing world and for forging responsible routes to the future.

“We are grateful to the AHRC for supporting us in nurturing distinctive new voices to speak in expert and thoughtful ways into that future.”

Professor Frank Finlay, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures at the University of Leeds, said: “What is particularly exciting about this support from the AHRC is the focus on fostering a collaborative, global approach to doctoral training. At Leeds, we do everything we can to encourage and support our staff and students to work with experts across the world.

"This includes those to be found in the many world-renowned organisations which are our partners and collaborators. We are also fortunate to live and work in culturally-diverse communities which contribute hugely to the excellence of our research and teaching.”


Professor Susan Fitzmaurice, Vice-President for Arts and Humanities at the University of Sheffield, said: “Universities can play a crucial role in solving some of the biggest and most pressing issues facing the world today, but they will struggle to do this without researchers from the arts and humanities.

"Some of our most significant problems have human behaviour, culture and beliefs at the very heart of the issue and it's arts and humanities scholars who are uniquely placed to help with this.

“Enabling our best and brightest students to conduct genuinely ground-breaking research to continue to build the arts and humanities is very important and the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities is key to this work.”


Further information:

Since 1997 the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York have built on their individual strengths by collaborating through the White Rose University Consortium to add value from partnership activity in research, enterprise, innovation, and learning and teaching. Working with a range of partners from the private and public sector, both in the UK and overseas, investment in excess of £180m has been secured into the Universities. 



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