New training consortium launches at an important time for social science research

The South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS) consortium, led by the University of Essex, has launched its new ESRC-backed Doctoral Training Partnership at an event in London.

Speaking at the launch were Sharon Witherspoon, MBE, Head of Policy at the Academy of Social Sciences and its Campaign for Social Science and Jonathan Portes, formerly Chief Economist at the Cabinet Office and now a Research Fellow at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

In response to their speeches, Professor Shamit Saggar, Director of SeNSS and Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor Research at the University of Essex, said, “I was struck by Sharon Witherspoon’s call to ensure that advanced quantitative training is spread across several social science disciplines. She rightly pointed to several significant social science challenges that are increasingly being tackled by disciplines such as sociology, political science, psychology and economics, all of whom now regularly require such training and skills of their doctoral candidates.

“Jonathan Portes is a seasoned observer of practitioners of evidence based policymaking. He commented that the rejection of experts – as illustrated by the recent Brexit referendum – was really aimed at social scientists. This means that SeNSS leaders have a particular responsibility to ensure that our doctoral students are aware of this sentiment but also to equip them to be persuasive and credible as well.”

The Doctoral Training Partnership will enable SeNSS to offer fully-funded doctoral studentships each year for the next six years, providing high quality social sciences training.

Students will also have the chance to collaborate with over 200 external organisations already in partnership with SeNSS. In addition, the consortium’s External Innovation Group, comprising senior research users and practitioners will be on hand to provide strategic advice

Alongside Essex, the SeNSS consortium consists of the following UK universities: City, University of London; University of East Anglia; Goldsmiths, University of London; University of Kent; University of Reading; Roehampton University; Royal Holloway, University of London; University of Surrey and University of Sussex.

The ESRC will be funding 14 new Doctoral Training Partnerships across the UK, with the first intake of students starting in October 2017. In total, around 500 studentships will be available each year across all of the DTPs, with 50 Postdoctoral Fellowships also funded through the DTP Network.

The launch event was attended by SeNSS members, including the Vice-Chancellors of partner institutions, senior academics and administrators, as well as other external stakeholders and practitioners who have given the consortium their backing.

For further information please contact the Communications Office at the University of Essex on 01206 872400 or comms@essex.ac.uk

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