A multi-million pound bid to revolutionise digital, engineering and manufacturing technology education across the South West has been successful.
The University of Plymouth is among the partners in the new South West Institute of Technology, which will establish a range of new buildings and facilities across the region.
The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed 12 successful applicants will receive a share of £170 million, and the Institutes will be 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.
The new South West Institute will have centres across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, with state-of-the-art facilities proposed for Exeter, Truro, Plymouth, Barnstaple and Bridgwater.
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 proposal draws on expertise of a number of partner organisations, also including the University of Exeter, Bridgwater & Taunton College, City College Plymouth, Exeter College, Petroc and Truro & Penwith College.
It also involves a group of anchor employers, who will ensure it focuses on developing the latest industry skills, including Babcock in Plymouth, Oxygen House and the Met Office in Exeter, and TDK Lambda in Ilfracombe. This bid is also supported by the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.
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 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.”
Professor Janice Kay, Provost of the University of Exeter, lead applicant for the bid, added:
“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 South West Colleges, University of Plymouth and key employers.”