Funding for Student and Employer Collaboration on STEM

01 December 2016 | College News, Science

Higher Education Students - Plymouth Hoe

City College Plymouth has been awarded nearly £31,000 through the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Catalyst Fund, to support the development of a Higher Education STEM Graduate Programme.

The Programme will take an innovate approach to giving students at the College the opportunity to undertake employer-led projects, within the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths. As well as supporting the College’s higher education students with the development of their professional and industrial skills, the STEM Graduate Programme will support local industry through the delivery of high-quality initiatives.

The hub for the projects will be the College’s new Regional Centre of Excellence for STEM. The £13million building, opening in autumn 2017, will provide an industry-approach to learning, dedicated to producing the scientists and engineers of tomorrow and revolutionising the way subjects are taught. Lecturers will create a flexible environment that simulates ‘real work’ scenarios with industry-standard workshops, laboratories and studios equipped with high-tech resources to support a broader and more relevant STEM curriculum.

“This funding will allow us to create some exciting STEM-related opportunities for our students and we are delighted to have the chance to further develop our already excellent links with local employers,” said Head of Higher Education, Kat Jones.

“Previous projects have included the building and testing of autonomous boats, which was a great way for the students to apply the theory they had learnt in a work setting. The new projects will allow us to build on the College’s experience of working with businesses to design innovative, industry-focussed higher education courses. We look forward to hearing from employers who would like to get involved.

“STEM is a local and national priority for addressing a predicted future skills shortage, and the College is committed to training and developing the workforce that local employers and the City’s economy need.”

HEFCE is supporting projects from a broad range of higher education institutions and further education colleges across England. These projects have successfully bid for up to £50,000 each from the Catalyst Fund to develop innovations in learning and teaching for either undergraduate or postgraduate taught provision.

The projects will develop and evaluate small-scale, experimental innovations with specific cohorts of learners. Projects will run for a period of 18 months. Active student engagement is a key aspect of the projects’ approach. The projects address a wide variety of themes including learning analytics, interdisciplinary learning, academic and employability skills, peer-assisted learning, assessment and student co-creation of learning resources.

A total of 139 bids were assessed, with advice from the Higher Education Academy, Jisc, and a student representative, to ensure that the selected projects would fully engage students in the innovation as leaders and co-creators, as well as demonstrating a clear and robust approach to project management, methodology and evaluation.

HEFCE’s Chief Executive, Madeleine Atkins, said: “We were delighted by the level of interest from universities and colleges in developing new ways of working and are pleased to be funding such an exciting range of learning and teaching innovations. We look forward to working with the project organisations to share the lessons across the sector.”

To get involved in the Higher Education STEM Graduate Programme at City College, call 01752 305026 or e-mail

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