£1.3m University Of Derby Scheme To Boost UK Engineering

Kedleston Road campus 504x257 £1.3m University Of Derby Scheme To Boost UK Engineering

Date posted: 9 December 2013

A £1.3million initiative to help plug a UK skills gap in vital engineering skills - and give students a free postgraduate education - is being 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 £25million '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 £1.3million, 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.

Masters (MSc) degree in Innovative Engineering Solutions (full-time):

A consortium of up to 30 employers will work with the University to recruit 50 students with First or 2:1 Class degrees from engineering or related disciplines; such as design, physics, chemistry or maths. Priority will go to students from backgrounds where going into higher education is not a given or groups under-represented in engineering, including women.

Students (whose course fees and travel costs will be paid) will study a University taught programme focusing on acquiring expertise in solving technical business problems in areas such as manufacturing, mechanical engineering, engineering design, materials and supply chain optimisation. They will then undertake 24 weeks of paid work including an in-company placement, followed by a related research project at the University's Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering.

Full time students would start in September 2014 and finish September 2015.

The course is set-up so that employers can test potential employees' abilities - useful for small or medium-sized companies without a graduate programme - and students gain real skills, with job opportunities at the course's end. The work they've undertaken could also contribute to Chartered Engineer status.

Masters degree (MSc) in Professional Engineering (part-time, online):

Developed with the Engineering Council the work-based MSc in Professional Engineering enables full-time engineers to gain Chartered Engineer status. The project means students can study online through University of Derby Online Learning (UDOL), without attending tutorials in Derby.

As well as catering for those with a traditional engineering degree the MSc is also available to employees without traditional higher education qualifications.

Students' employers will pay their tuition fees. The course will begin in September 2014 and normally takes two to three years to complete.

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.

Media requiring further information about this press release should contact Sean Kirby, University of Derby Press and PR Officer, on 01332 591891 or email: s.kirby@derby.ac.uk

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