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Grant success boosts training for Southampton Maths postgraduate research students

Published: 17 November 2006

Postgraduate research students in Mathematics at the University of Southampton will now have access to one of the widest portfolios of training courses available anywhere in the UK, thanks to a major boost from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

All four research groups in the University's School of Mathematics have been successful in joint bids with other universities to the EPSRC to establish Taught Course Centres for PhD Students in Mathematical Sciences. EPSRC awarded a total of £2.46m to fund five such schemes in the UK over the next five years. Almost 60 per cent of the available funds went to the three consortia of which Southampton is a partner.

Southampton is one of only a handful of Mathematics schools in the UK with research groups in all four areas of mathematics: pure, applied, statistics, and operational research. Of all the UK universities involved in the five EPSRC schemes, only Southampton and two others will offer their students a range of courses covering all these disciplines.

The consortia partners will deliver courses through a mixture of live, interactive, Grid (web) broadcasts and residential courses to equip postgraduate research (PGR) students with a world-class portfolio of skills and offer them international research opportunities.

Professor Alistair Fitt, Head of the School of Mathematics, commented: "The involvement of all four of our mathematics research groups in three of the five EPSRC training schemes firmly establishes Southampton as one of the foremost UK providers of postgraduate research in Mathematics. In addition to an extensive training programme, the EPSRC award means we will now be able to offer our PGR students access to equipment that will allow real-time interactive research collaboration with other researchers around the world."

The award will support postgraduate Mathematics studies at Southampton as follows:

The Applied and Pure Mathematics groups are part of the successful Mathematical Access Grid Instruction and Collaboration (MAGIC) consortium of 14 university Mathematics departments. Each member will have a dedicated Grid Access room which will allow PGR students to access, participate in and interact with courses given by MAGIC members. Students will also be able to take part remotely in research seminars, enabling previously impossible levels of collaboration. Courses will be recorded and a library will be available more generally over the Internet for viewing off-line. Students will also meet up for fully-funded conferences.

The Statistics group is part of the Academy for PhD Training in Statistics (APTS), a collaboration between nine prominent university statistics groups in the UK. Statistics PGR students will attend residential courses covering core statistical skills.

The Operational Research group is part of the National Taught Centre for Operational Research (NATCOR) which will provide a broad range of courses spanning OR and its applications in management.

The EPSRC call to establish Taught Course Centres for PhD Students in Mathematical Sciences was a response to recommendations by the recent International Review of Mathematics on the training for UK mathematics postgraduates. All centres will make their course material available electronically for wider use.

Notes for editors

  1. The Graduate School in Mathematics at Southampton has over 100 students.  It offers fully-funded PhD studentships in Applied, Pure, Statistics and Operational Research as well as taught MSc programmes in Medical Statistics, Operational Research and Operational Research with Finance.
  2. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship.  It is one of the UK's top 10 research universities, offering first-rate opportunities and facilities for study and research across a wide range of subjects in humanities, health, science and engineering.  The University has around 20,000 students and over 5000 staff.  Its annual turnover is in the region of £310 million.
  3. The MAGIC consortium members are the Applied and Pure Research Mathematics groups at the Universities of Birmingham, Durham, Keele, Lancaster, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Loughborough, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton and York.
  4. The APTS consortium members are the Statistics Groups at the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cambridge, Glasgow, Lancaster, Nottingham, Oxford, Southampton and Warwick.
  5. The NATCOR consortium members are the OR research groups at Brunel University and the Universities of Cardiff, Lancaster, Nottingham, Southampton and Warwick.
  6. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. The EPSRC is investing £650 million this year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC also actively promotes public awareness of science and engineering. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. Website address for more information on EPSRC: www.epsrc.ac.uk/

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