January 2018

Innovative Birmingham education partnership receives funding to teach future skills

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A Birmingham education partnership including University College Birmingham has received funding to develop new and enhanced courses to help provide the skills needed in the Midlands’ future economy.

The University of BirminghamSouth & City College and UCB are set to work together with the region’s employers to provide education programmes that will equip students with skills to face the future.

Following last summer’s announcement of a new collaboration between the University of Birmingham and UCB, the partnership has now won the maximum £200,000 national funding from HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England).

The partnership will use the HEFCE funding to help develop new and enhanced higher education courses that support the aims of the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

Backed by five employers, the universities will work with South & City College Birmingham to develop a new curriculum focussed on electrical and electronic engineering, which will boost students’ digital, technical and employment skills alongside ‘core’ academic content.

The project aims to plug the gap in provision between FE Colleges - which tend to take more vocationally-focussed students - and research-intensive universities, which traditionally admit more academically focused students.

University College Birmingham’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Ray Linforth, said: “Alongside the University of Birmingham and South and City College Birmingham, we look forward to leading the way in developing innovative education and training pathways that will benefit the region and its young people.”

University of Birmingham Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir David Eastwood said: “The University of Birmingham and University College Birmingham will work together with employers across the region to harness the strengths of each institution for the benefit of young and mature learners and the Midlands’ economy.

“We are delighted to receive funding from HEFCE that will help us to create new, innovative developments that support the regional skills agenda helping students move from further to higher education.”

South and City College Birmingham Principal Mike Hopkins said: “We are very pleased to have received this funding which will help even more of our engineering students progress to university. We are looking forward to working with local employers, UCB and the University of Birmingham to deliver training which is innovative and engaging for students, and at the same time meets the needs of the local economy.”

Over 30 universities and colleges in England have each been awarded up to £200,000 of project funding from HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund programme, with additional investment provided by the universities and colleges involved, employers and other partners.

The HEFCE funding is designed to support universities and colleges in co-developing and co-designing courses with national and local employers.

Across the country, this funding is supporting a range of projects in many different sectors which align with the Industrial Strategy’s ‘Grand Challenges’ – from advanced engineering to data analytics, and from artificial intelligence to bioscience.

HEFCE’s investment will help to enhance graduate outcomes and employability, and upskill the workforce - providing the key skills that industry and employers will need and contributing to UK productivity in the longer term.

HEFCE Chief Executive Professor Madeleine Atkins said: "We were delighted with the quality of proposals received for this funding call and particularly the impressive levels of engagement between higher education and industry.

“This investment represents important support for the government’s Industrial Strategy. The funding will provide new courses and vital skill developments in key industrial sectors across the country, from which students, the workforce and employers all stand to benefit."

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