The Department for Education has released details of nine new Institutes of Technology (IoT), the winners of its Higher Education Short Course Challenge (HESCC) and over £135 million in capital funding to support investment in new buildings, facilities and equipment for universities and colleges across England.
New Institutes of Technology
Nine new IoTs in locations including Blackpool, Derby, Salford and Essex will bring the total of IoTs to 21 across the country. These will offer higher technical education and training in subjects seen as essential to meeting the country’s skills needs, including advanced manufacturing, digital and cyber security, aerospace and healthcare.
The second wave of IoTs and the areas they will cover are:
- Blackpool and The Fylde College (Lancashire LEP area)
- Cheshire College South and West (Cheshire and Warrington LEP area)
- Chichester College Group (Coast to Capital LEP area)
- DN Colleges Group (Sheffield LEP area)
- Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group (Stoke on Trent & Staffordshire LEP area)
- Solent University (Solent LEP area)
- South Essex College (South East LEP area)
- University of Derby (D2N2 and Leicestershire LEP areas)
- University of Salford (Greater Manchester LEP area)
New higher education short courses
More than 100 new, higher education short courses have also been announced. The 22 universities and colleges providing them are the winners of the Higher Education Short Course Challenge competition, launched in August by the DfE and the Office for Students (OfS) to “test learner behaviours” and pilot its lifelong learning entitlements (LLE) scheme for flexible student finance.
The 22 successful providers will now share a £2 million fund to trial the new short courses.
The courses last between six weeks to a year and will be offered at levels 4 to 6, in subjects where there are skills shortages, such as digital, net zero, education, STEM and healthcare. Courses will run in partnership with a range of organisations including chambers of commerce and other business organisations, individual business, local authorities and local NHS organisations.
Examples of subject areas covered by the new short courses include: digital content creation at Liverpool John Moores; coding and UX design at Norwich University of the Arts; net zero buildings at South Bank University; space technology at the University of Leicester; “change and resilience” at the University of Chester; and courses at the University of Roehampton (pictured) to upskill teaching assistants.
Announcing the successful bidders, Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the OfS, said the new courses would “help people – including those who might already have significant work experience – learn new skills and retrain for a career change.
“This type of flexibility is important and will help employers fill skills gaps which are essential for their businesses and support future economic growth. At the same time students will be able to benefit from higher education for short periods of time, which will enable them to further their careers, as well as giving them the opportunity to go on and gain a full degree.”
£135 million capital funding winners
As part of its strategic priorities grant, and following a competitive bidding process, the OfS has also awarded 100 higher education providers over £135 million in capital funding for the 2021-22 financial year to support investment in new buildings, facilities and equipment for universities and colleges across England.
Successful bids had to demonstrate they offered good value for public money, and met one or more priority criteria by offering: high-cost subjects of strategic importance (eg science, technology and engineering, and healthcare disciplines), enhancement of graduate employability and local skills, or part-time and other forms of flexible provision.
Of the providers who won funding, 44 were awarded the maximum amount of £2 million. They include the University of Roehampton (pictured), which will deliver a new healthcare hub to boost higher technical, apprenticeships and flexible modular training.
“Good facilities, modern buildings and access to the right equipment are important elements to students having a positive experience of higher education,” said OfS director of resources and finance Nolan Smith.
“This was a very competitive funding round, with generally high quality applications across the board. The projects we are funding provide good value for money for the taxpayer, and will make a demonstrable and positive difference to students now and into the future. The projects will help with strategically important subjects which are expensive to deliver, as well as offering a boost to local and regional economies.”
Specialist theatre and performance provider Rose Bruford College was one of the recipients of the capital funding, winning £1.9 million do develop its Centre for Digital Production, which was opened in 2020 and offers students the chance to develop skills in virtual theatre and digital content design, using virtual reality, mixed reality and motion capture technology.
Vice-principal Mary Oliver said: “This investment ensures that our graduates will be driving the future of theatre and screen production, able to enter employment across a much greater range of industry settings as a result of the technological convergence between our different media and technology practices”.
‘A vital part of our mission to level up this country’
Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said of the announcements: “Ensuring everyone is given the opportunity to reach their full potential, no matter their age or life stage, is a vital part of our mission to level up this country.
“These measures, including our new short courses and nine new Institutes of Technology, will boost access to more high-quality and flexible education and training – giving people the chance to learn at a pace that is right for them, while ensuring we have the skilled workforce needed to boost our economy.”
Toby Perkins MP, Labour’s shadow further education and skills minister said the government needed a plan for skills and training “that amounts to more than quick slogans or sticking plasters”.