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PhD vs MSc funding

To suggest that there is a 'funding switch from MSc courses to civils PhDs' (NCE 21/28 August) is both irresponsible and wrong.

In fact, EPSRC has recently told universities that it may in future use money previously earmarked for PhDs to fund MSc courses, where the MSc is of a type that prepares students for research.

Thus money currently used for PhD students could be diverted to fund MSc students – the opposite of what is stated in your article.

What there is some unease about is EPSRC's change of emphasis in other areas from Masters training to knowledge transfer, in response to government pressure to demonstrate the benefits of EPSRC-funded research to the UK economy.

However, it will still be possible for universities to fund MSc courses from the new Knowledge Transfer Accounts, where these MScs exploit and disseminate the results of EPSRC funded research.

There are many individuals and organisations within the construction industry who support, use and recognise the value of civil engineering research, but we could as a sector do far better.

EPSRC's knowledge transfer initiative offers us an opportunity to do this: if we do not embrace it, other industries will.

WILLIAM POWRIE, professor of geotechnical engineering, School of Civil Engineering & the Environment, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, SO17 1BJ

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