Q-Step funding programme on Quantitative Methods training for UK social science undergraduates

In response to the recommendations in Professor John MacInnes, 2009 report (PDF, 330Kb) on the undergraduate teaching of quantitative methods (QM) in the social sciences, ESRC has supported a number of activities to innovate undergraduate QM course content and increase the number and quality of QM teachers. The most notable of these activities is the Q-Step programme.

Q-Step is a £19.5 million initiative funded by the Nuffield Foundation, ESRC and HEFCE, designed to promote a step-change in quantitative social science training in the UK. Q-Step was developed as a strategic response to the shortage of quantitatively-skilled social science graduates which has left employers across all sectors unable to recruit people with the skills to apply quantitative methods to evaluating evidence and analysing data.

Over a five-year period from 2013, Q-Step is supporting fifteen Q-Step Centres at universities across the UK to support the development and delivery of specialist undergraduate programmes: including new courses, modules a broad range of summer schools, research placements and internships. Most of the Q-Step Centres are also engaged in outreach work to schools to support teachers and/or encourage student recruitment. The reach of the programme was recently increased to include groups of departments in a further three universities that demonstrate a high level of commitment to the aims of Q-Step. These departments were granted ‘affiliate’ status and have been awarded funding for student bursaries for short courses and work placements associated with their revised training provision.

To date Q-Step Centre’s have created or modified 48 degree courses and developed 136 modules which have been fully embedded into degree courses thereby permanently changing the curriculum. 53 new quantitatively skilled academic staff are now in place on permanent contracts directly as a result of Q-Step funding.