photo of a student working in a laboratory in the Geography department.

Loughborough University set to benefit from Central England training centre programme funded by NERC

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is investing over £100 million over the next five years as part of its continued support of environmental science PhD training in the second round of the Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) programme.

Loughborough University is set to benefit from the investment as a partner in the CENTA2 (Central England NERC Training Alliance 2) DTP.

The PhD training centres, known as DTPs, underpin the UK’s world-leading profile within the environmental science community and bring together universities, research organisations and partners from a wide range of backgrounds, including higher education institutes, charities, NGOs, government bodies and industry leaders.

DTPs will train the scientists of tomorrow by providing the scientific, professional and technical skills that increase the UK’s scientific capability to solve environmental problems. Together DTPs will train the highly-skilled workforce that the UK needs for its future as a leader in cutting-edge research, innovation, and sustainable economic growth.

The 2018 DTP call was an open and competitive process that identified 17 DTPs to host PhD studentships funded by NERC.  Each DTP was assessed on the basis of excellence through a transparent, peer-reviewed application process.

The PhD studentships will be available over the course of five annual admissions, starting in the 2019/20 academic year. Each DTP will recruit a number of students every year, which will create a cohort of students who will network, train, and tackle challenges together. 

The University of Birmingham is leading the CENTA2 (Central England NERC Training Alliance 2) DTP having worked together on the proposal with members from all partner institutions including Loughborough University, University of Leicester, University of Warwick, The Open University and Cranfield University as well as the British Geological Survey, National Centre of Earth Observation, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science. 

Dr Dave Ryves, Reader in Environmental Change and Centa Co-ordinator for Loughborough University, said: “Loughborough University is delighted to be part of this exciting doctoral training partnership in environmental science, continuing its long association with Centa.

“The Centa2 alliance will tap into Loughborough’s internationally renowned expertise across a range of disciplines across diverse Schools to tackle pressing problems of global importance, and help inspire, develop and nurture future leaders in a wide range of fields.”

Professor Tim Wheeler, Director of Research and Innovation at NERC, said “This investment will provide a bedrock for the environmental science community, fostering the next generation of highly skilled professionals that bring together specialist knowledge from academia, industry and beyond.”

Dr Gregor Leckebusch, from the University of Birmingham’s School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, who leads the CENTA2 DTP, said: “We are looking forward to the exciting opportunity to provide an outstanding training environment creating the next generation of leaders in science, industry and society. In collaboration with our partners from industry, public agencies and NGOs, we will train doctoral students to the highest standards based on our world-leading research excellence.”

Sam Gyimah, Minister for Science and Innovation, said: The UK is alive with ambitious young minds that have the potential to shape the science and research landscape, stretching existing boundaries of knowledge and conquering the challenges of tomorrow.

“Making the most of the UK’s world-leading reputation in science and innovation is at the core of our modern Industrial Strategy, and it is today’s young people that will fulfil this ambition to create a Britain fit for the future.”

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 18/134

For further information please contact:

Rebecca Lockwood, Press Office, University of Birmingham, 

T: 0121 414 2772  E:

1.    NERC is the UK's main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic science, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. We coordinate some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on Earth, and much more. NERC is part of UK Research & Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

2.    The University of Birmingham is ranked among the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.  It is ranked 7th in the UK for Graduate Employability (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2014/15) and was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment 2015/16 by The Times and Sunday Times.

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Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2018 QS World University Rankings, top in the country for its student experience in the 2018 THE Student Experience Survey and named University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019 and the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2018.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2019, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019 and 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2019. It was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.