£25million South West Institute of Technology plan reaches funding bid final

15 June 2018 | College News

City College Plymouth in partnership with colleges and universities from across the South West, has reached the final phase of a multi-million pound bid to revolutionise digital technology education in the region.

The Department for Education (DfE) is awarding £170million to establish a network of Institutes of Technology across the country. The South West Institute of Technology (SWIoT) bid, is one of 16 to progress to the final stage of the competitive process and will offer top-quality training and Apprenticeships in higher-level technical skills.

The proposal draws on expertise from 12 partner organisations including the University of Exeter, University of Plymouth, Bridgwater and Taunton College, Exeter College, Petroc and Truro and Penwith College. It will aim to bridge skills gaps in the economy by providing the knowledge and training that employers need through the delivery of a range of higher level courses across the digital, engineering and manufacturing sectors.

They are joined by digital experts from Oxygen House and the Met Office, both based in Exeter, and engineering and manufacturing experts from Babcock in Plymouth, TDK Lambda in Ilfracombe and Watson-Marlow Fluid Technology Group. This bid is also supported by both Heart of the South West and the Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

The Institute, which could launch in 2021 if funding is granted, is expected to cost £25 million. Of that, £15 million would be provided by the Government, with the remaining £10 million made up by the partnership behind the bid.

Catering for up to 1,549 students, ranging from post A-level to Degree Apprenticeship level, the Institute would help put the region at the forefront of digital technology learning across the UK.

Phil Davies, Principal and Chief Executive of City College Plymouth, said: “We are delighted that the SWIoT has been shortlisted. As one of the region’s leading Colleges in delivering higher level STEM skills, this will enable City College Plymouth to further grow our employer-led provision, responding to local and regional skills gaps and shortages.”

Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Steve Hindley, said: “The LEP welcomes the news that we are a step closer to creating an Institute of Technology in the Heart of the South West, which will provide higher level technical education and training to address the skills gap, meet employer needs and drive productivity. Creating better collaboration between education establishments and business is a key principal of the LEP’s strategies, particularly when it comes to developing skills in STEM subjects and helping local people pursue higher value careers.

“HotSW and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly LEP have been supporting the partnership led by Exeter University on this robust bid; so to be selected as one of the 16 areas to go through to the next stage illustrates the Government’s confidence in our partnership to deliver results. I look forward to continuing to work with our partners from the universities, colleges and business community to help further the progress of this important project.”

The SWIoT would establish a range of new buildings and facilities across the region. It would have centres located across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, with state-of-the-art facilities proposed for Exeter, Truro, Plymouth, Barnstaple and the Bridgwater area.

These include: new buildings to teach a range of digital subjects in Exeter; a new facility, including an electronic laboratory, in Truro for engineering and digital teaching; and a number of both new builds and refurbished existing facilities in Barnstaple, Plymouth and the Bridgwater area.

In a separate announcement alongside these latest proposals, the Government also confirmed that three of the SWIoT partners have been selected for a pilot programme to teach the new ‘T’ Level qualification.

Announcing the new T Levels, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “T Levels provide a high-quality, technical alternative to A Levels ensuring thousands of people across the country have the skills we need to compete globally – a vital part of our modern industrial strategy.”

The full list of the 16 bids invited to move to the final stage of the process is available on the DfE website.

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