We live in times where all kinds of information are easily available. At the same time, questionable uses and misrepresentations of “facts” are multiplying in public discourse. Being capable of judging the quality and meaningfulness of any piece of evidence is crucial to a healthy democratic citizenry.
Quantitative skills have become increasingly desirable for employers across all sectors. “The ability to handle data and use numerical evidence systematically” (The British Academy, 2013) is now an essential element of effective evidence-based research, analysis, planning, implementation and evaluation needed in business, charities, politics, media, academia and the public sector.
Q-Step was launched in 2013 in response to the shortage of quantitatively-skilled social science graduates. Generously funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the now discontinued Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), it is a £19.5 million programme designed to promote a step-change in quantitative social science education and training in the UK.
Universities were selected through an open application process, with a panel of international peer reviewers and an independent selection board. They have been given funding to host Q-Step centres and develop their quantitative skills training through new courses, work placements or increased research support for undergraduate students.