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Brit unis get £7.5m of taxpayers' cash for cybersecurity PhDs

22 scholarships at Oxford and Royal Holloway up for grabs

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Two UK universities are going to split £7.5m in government funding to train the next generation of cybersecurity experts.

The University of Oxford and Royal Holloway University bagged £3.65m and £3.8m respectively to run doctoral courses in computer security from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Universities minister David Willetts said Blighty had to do everything it could to handle threats to its networks and electronic systems.

"Businesses are facing more cyber-attacks than ever before, putting their confidential information and intellectual property at risk. We must do everything we can to tackle this threat and make them less vulnerable," he said.

"These new centres will produce a new generation of cyber security specialists, able to use their skills and research expertise to improve cyber security and drive growth."

The multimillion-pound handouts are part of the National Cybersecurity Programme, and will add PhD places on top of the 30 GCHQ-sponsored slots the scheme already supports.

The UK government has joined the US administration and other nations in classing cyber attacks as a priority for national security, sticking them on the same level of terrorism.

Oxford uni said its programme would include the security of big data, real-time safety, and effective systems verification and assurance.

"The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) team will not draw from just the technical perspective, but also disciplines such as social science, business, and strategic studies," said Dr Andrew Martin, who will run the centre.

"Mixing these with practitioner experiences from business and government, the students will gain a unique insight into the context of their work, and undertake research that makes a real, long-lasting contribution."

The funding would allow the top uni to offer 12 full scholarships for starting periods of three years, while Royal Holloway said it would have ten PhD scholarships in three annual intakes.

Organisations including IBM, McAfee, Thales and Logica had already agreed to back Royal Holloway's programme, the university said. ®

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