The University of Exeter has been awarded a slice of £1.7m Government funding to increase the supply of new engineers.

Exeter wins slice of £1.7 million to boost careers in Engineering

The University of Exeter has been awarded a slice of £1.7m Government funding to increase the supply of new engineers.

The money, from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), will be used to develop MSc engineering conversion courses.

The courses will allow those who have undertaken previous study in other subjects to transition to careers in these areas. The Exeter initiative is one of 28 to have received HEFCE funding nationwide.

The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences plans to spend the £60,000 award on expanding and promoting its MSc courses in Civil Engineering, Water Engineering and Structural Engineering including its unique with management variations taught in conjunction with the Business School. The new courses, with embedded additional support in Mathematics and Professional skills for conversion students, will start in the 2016-17 academic year.

HEFCE funds will pay for marketing and a paid graduate internship to help coordinate promotion and for the development of a new non-credit bearing module in Mathematics to support students who have transferred from other undergraduate disciplines.

Student Recruitment Manager Thomas Stevenson, who helped to design the HEFCE bid said: “We are very pleased to have secured this funding. We are the only university offering this type of course in the area of civil, structural and water engineering. This money will help us to promote the uniqueness of the Exeter conversion course and draw more people to these specialties."

Prof Stephen Eichhorn, Professor of Materials Science and Head of Engineering, said: “Engineering at the University of Exeter is ranked in the top 10 of three major UK university league tables and our education is driven by world-leading research. We are delighted that this funding will allow us to develop additional support for conversion course students, to assist their transition from other disciplines and to open up career opportunities for them while helping to address the growing demand for engineers.”

The HEFCE funding initiative is designed to address the economy’s demand for graduates in engineering, data science, cybersecurity, and software engineering. It believes that providing graduates in other subjects with the opportunity to study and work in these areas will allow them to develop their careers, and increase the supply of skilled practitioners. The courses will provide a range of opportunities for graduates across England to convert to these subjects, while undertaking study delivered in a variety of different models.

Professor Madeleine Atkins, HEFCE Chief Executive, said: “Professional engineers and their skills are required throughout the economy, in a wide range of industries and in a variety of roles. It is widely accepted that it would benefit the economy to increase the supply of engineers. Engineering businesses face challenges in recruiting new engineers as new roles are created and the existing workforce retires. In particular, there is ever growing demand for those trained in data science, cybersecurity, and software engineering. By supporting innovative course developments in universities and colleges, these awards will open up careers in these areas to a wider range of graduates, benefiting both students and employers in key sectors such as manufacturing, food and agri-tech, data science, and energy.”

Evaluation of the scheme and the funded courses will take place over the next year while the courses are being delivered, and key lessons will be shared with the sector.

Date: 11 March 2016

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