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The Government has announced the first Stephen Hawking Fellows, who will continue Professor Stephen Hawking’s legacy by furthering understanding of the universe and tackling major scientific questions like the nature of dark matter and how planets are formed.

The Fellows will receive a portion of the £15m funding already announced in 2018 by the Government, in partnership with the Hawking family. The Fellowships will support ground-breaking research across physics, maths and computer sciences which challenges current assumptions, advances scientific knowledge and inspires the public through their discoveries.

Stephen Hawking’s children, Lucy, Robert and Tim Hawking, said: “We are proud to be associated with this initiative, which builds on the legacy of our father by supporting research into these areas of science.

“One of his greatest achievements was opening up even the most complex scientific breakthroughs to the wider world and we hope that these Fellows are able to continue that important mission by inspiring people from all walks of life in the wonders of science.”

The government also announced a multi-million-pound government package of investment and training. Marking the start of British Science Week, the funding will support up to 11,000 students through 41 Doctoral Training Partnerships, as well as encouraging more young people, particularly girls, to study STEM subjects at school and university, and pursuing a STEM-related career.

The investment includes:

  • £179 million for PhDs, formally known as Doctoral Training Partnerships, at over 40 UK universities in physical sciences, maths and engineering to develop the skills for ground-breaking research and high-tech industries like cyber security and chemical manufacturing. Part of the investment will go into pilots looking at how best to attract and support those from non-academic backgrounds to undertake this type of training.
  • £8.9million to continue funding science education programmes including Science Learning Partnerships and Stimulating Physics Networks, which aim to improve science teaching and increase the take up of science at GCSE level and A level and ultimately encourage young people to pursue a STEM-related career.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Today’s funding will support the talented people we have in this country to study these vital subjects, develop technologies for the future and support the UK’s status as a science superpower.”

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Making sure that the next generation has the scientific skills to meet the world’s needs – from developing green technologies to curing illnesses – couldn’t be more important.

“Girls now make up just over half of A level entries for the three core science subjects but there is more we can do so we will fund research to better understand how we can improve girls’ physics A level participation.”

Today’s funding announcements follow the Government investing up to £300 million to fund experimental and imaginative mathematical sciences research over the next five years. The new funding forms part of the Government’s commitment to significantly boost research and development funding reaching 2.4% of GDP by 2027 and levelling up every part of the UK. 

Susie Haywood
Article by Susie Haywood
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