A £1.3m initiative to help plug a UK skills gap in vital engineering skills – and give students a free postgraduate education – has been announced today by the University of Derby and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
More than 40 UK universities, including Derby, will share in HEFCE’s national £25m ‘Postgraduate Support Scheme’ (PSS). It aims to support 20 pilot projects – run jointly by universities and businesses – helping more than 2,800 first degree students into postgraduate education, particularly those less likely to progress to this level.
The University of Derby’s own project is worth £1.3m, with £598,933 coming from the PSS fund and the remainder from the University itself and commercial partners.
Derby will deliver two exciting new postgraduate training courses, free to students (whether they’ve previously studied at Derby or not) and giving them new skills to boost their employability.
Both courses will also see experienced managers within the student’s company given structured training to become certified workplace mentors to become an active participant in students’ learning.
Professor Philip Plowden, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Derby, said: “The Confederation of British Industry recently reported that UK businesses were suffering a shortage of highly skilled workers in manufacturing, engineering and other areas vital to the UK economy.
“The University of Derby’s bold new initiative, and that of our partner universities in the Postgraduate Support Scheme, will ease students’ progression into further study, which will be designed with employers to meet their specific needs.
“Along with our new Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering, which will play a significant role in the PSS, it’s a sign of Derby’s commitment to working closely with businesses and providing real world learning.”
Steve Egan, HEFCE Interim Chief Executive, added: “The range and innovative approaches in the schemes which universities have devised to increase take up of postgraduate courses is impressive. We will work closely with the projects to see what is working well and to communicate this widely, to build strong foundations for this critical aspect of higher education.”
Projects were chosen for PSS funding by a panel including representatives from universities, HEFCE, the UK Council for Graduate Education and the National Union of Students.