A multi-million pound bid to revolutionise digital, engineering and manufacturing technology education across the South West has been successful, it has been announced.
The new Institute of Technology will establish a range of new buildings and facilities across the region.
The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed the twelve successful applicants will receive a share of £170 million, awarded to establish a network of Institutes of Technology across the country.
The Exeter element of the bid will help part fund Exeter College’s plans for a new £10 million Digital and Data Hub on its Hele Road site.
Exeter College’s proposed Digital and Data Hub will meet the needs of employers by training the next generation of digital and data experts. A planning application for the Hub has been submitted to Exeter City Council.
The Hub is part of a wider £70 million masterplan over the next 20 years for the award-winning further education college. The build would provide Exeter College with an extra 26,909 square feet of floorspace for teaching.
John Laramy, Exeter College Principal and Chief Executive, said: “Exeter College is delighted that the collective Institute of Technology submission for the South West has been successful, this shows what we can achieve when businesses, universities and colleges all work together as one.
“The Exeter component of the Institute of Technology focuses on digital, data and the high level skills required by employers in the Exeter area, we are therefore delighted that the Met Office and Oxygen House were a key part of the successful bid.”
The Institutes will be unique collaborations between universities, Further Education colleges, and leading employers. They will specialise in delivering quality higher level technical training and provide employers with the skilled workforce they need.
Of 35 original applications, an Institute of Technology for the South West region was one of 16 to be invited to the final stage of the competitive process last year. Twelve of the final stage applicants have been successful.
The Institute of Technology in the South West will have centres located across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, with state-of-the-art facilities proposed for Exeter, Truro, Plymouth, Barnstaple and Taunton.
These include a new Digital and Data Hub in Exeter, a new technology hub in Truro for engineering and digital teaching, and a number of both new builds and refurbished existing facilities in Barnstaple, Plymouth and Cannington.
The Secretary of State has today (April 10th) confirmed the bid has been successfully chosen to receive multi-million pound funding.
The proposal draws on expertise from a number of partner organisations, including the University of Exeter; University of Plymouth, Bridgwater & Taunton College, City College Plymouth, Exeter College, Petroc and Truro & Penwith College.
A group of ‘anchor employers’ will lead the direction of the new Institute of Technology and ensure focus on the latest industry skills. These employers are from Oxygen House and the Met Office in Exeter, Babcock in Plymouth and TDK Lambda in Ilfracombe. This bid is also supported by both Heart of the South West and the Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).
Catering for up to 2,500 students, in apprenticeship and full-time courses from post-16 level to Masters degree level, the Institute will help put the region at the forefront of digital and engineering education across the UK.
Professor Janice Kay, Provost of the University of Exeter, lead applicant for the bid, said: “Being awarded one of the country’s new Institutes of Technology is a major accolade for the region. It’s a huge boost for enhancing skills and employment opportunities as part of a much wider strategy focused on developing the south west as a national and international centre for digital, data, advanced engineering and environmental businesses. By bringing local colleges together with regional employers and universities, the Institute of Technology will provide a pipeline of high skilled staff for employers moving into or growing in the area. It will help local people to benefit from knowledge-intensive jobs being created in our region and on our science parks. The University of Exeter is delighted to be working with outstanding SW Colleges, University of Plymouth and key employers.”
Professor Simon Payne, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International and Planning) at the University of Plymouth, said: “We are delighted that this bid has been successful, and it will enable us to build on our existing strengths in engineering and computing. The Institute of Technology builds on the University’s strong collaborations with Further Education Colleges and our industrial partners. Advanced manufacturing and engineering are important for the whole South West, but especially in Plymouth with the greatest proportion of jobs in the sectors of any large city in southern England. The Institute of Technology will allow us to expand our work with employers to ensure the region can stay ahead of the game in these fast-moving industries.”
Andy Correy, Head of Production at Babcock, said “This is great news for the South West and offers exciting new opportunities and facilities for those wishing to develop technical knowledge, skills and careers in the region. It forms a truly collaborative approach between HE, FE and leading employers who are all focussed on ensuring this provides world class technical education enabling it to become one of the world’s leading regions for digital, engineering and manufacturing technologies”
Charles Ewen, Director of Technology at the Met Office, said: “The Met Office relies on the talent of our people in order to deliver world-class technology supporting world-leading science and services. An Institute of Technology in the South West will align the delivery of very high quality technology education and skills from a range of higher and further education providers in the region with significant benefits to learners and employers. We are delighted to be part of this”
Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP), Steve Hindley, said: “Today's announcement of a successful outcome for the South West Institute of Technology is a major success story for the Heart of the South West. Bringing together our outstanding colleges, our leading universities and some of our strongest businesses to deliver the skills our economy needs today and into the future, the Institute of Technology marks a significant milestone in realising the economic potential of our shared economy. HotSW LEP looks forward to working with the SWIoT to deliver critical technical skills for our digital and engineering sectors, as well as new opportunities for additional growth, better jobs and stretching prosperity across our community”.
Mark Duddridge, chair of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This is a tremendous achievement for our region. It will move technical skills provision to a new level by forging even closer relationships between education and business, giving our companies the skills they need to compete and grow in a global market, and making our region more attractive to inward investors.”
Diane Dimond, Principal and Chief Executive of Petroc commented “'We are delighted to be part of this fantastic initiative for our region bringing specialised facilities and exciting career enabling opportunities to Northern Devon through new and innovative curriculum and to continue to work closely with TDK Lambda and the other anchor employers across the region.”
Glenn Woodcock, Director of Oxygen House in Exeter, said: “Analytical skills will be at the heart of our future economy. The IoT is a crucial step in ensuring our young people are ready to contribute at all levels and is a fantastic endorsement of the collegiate strategy toward digital skills that has been developed between educational institutions and the private sector here in the South West.”
David Walrond, Truro and Penwith College Principal said: "The College's success in this bid is excellent news for Cornwall. The Institute will create a range of local progression opportunities into higher education and apprenticeship provision which is designed in partnership with the growing group of engineering and digital businesses in Cornwall. As a result the courses and training will meet the local higher skills needs for these important industries, offering well paid careers and making a valuable contribution to local economic growth.”
Penny Wycherley, Principal and Chief Executive of City College Plymouth, said: “It’s fantastic news for the region that the South West consortium has been successful in its bid. As one of the region’s leading colleges in delivering world-class higher level digital and marine engineering skills, particularly in marine autonomous vehicles, the funding will enable City College Plymouth to further grow our employer-led provision, responding to local and regional skills gaps and shortages.”