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Institute of Technology success in the West of England

The 12 winning bids by colleges and universities, which will share £170m, have been announced by the Department for Education today.

A Weston College-led application to create an ‘Institute of Technology’ (IoT) is one of those winning bids and will now progress to the pre-award stage.

The application, which will potentially receive £14m of government funding, is a consortium of education providers and key employers across the South West. It has been led by Weston College and includes the University of the West of England, Bath College, Gloucestershire College, and Yeovil College as well as a network of key local employers, including; GKN Aerospace, Airbus, GE Aviation, Renishaw, Weston Area Health TrustSt Monica Trust, Jisc, Mayden Academy, National Composites Centre (NCC), North Somerset Council and Tech OP Solutions.

The Government’s aim for IoTs is to offer an alternative to universities by specialising in delivering higher level technical training in STEM subjects. This will boost young people's skills and provide a route for students taking T levels or A Levels to move onto higher level technical education; IoTs will also cater for those people already in work, with higher level technical training at Level 4 and above in STEM subjects. IoTs will set all learners on a path to high-skilled, high-wage careers in health and social care; advanced engineering and high-value manufacturing, and the creative, digital and high-tech industry sectors.

This combined foundation of expertise will extend learning beyond physical boundaries to maximise engagement of under-represented individuals through digital innovation. The next generation will be fully equipped to apply their skills increase productivity and position the region as the ‘creators and makers’ of the future.

Dr Paul Phillips CBE, Principal and Chief Executive of the Weston College Group, commented: “We are thrilled to have received this news. Working collaboratively with other institutes and employers is key, and the Government have recognised that this project will significantly influence skills development and innovation on both a regional and national basis.”

Professor Jane Harrington, Deputy Vice Chancellor & Provost UWE, Bristol said: “This is fantastic news for the region with the potential now to have a genuinely joined up approach to skills development and training.”

Laurel Penrose, Principal and Chief Executive of Bath College said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for current and future students of Bath College as well as a national vote of confidence in the quality and commitment of the College and its staff to be part of this nation-wide initiative.

“It is fantastic to be part of such a rigorous and innovative process working with other FE and HE establishments developing appropriate qualifications in liaison with employers.”

Tim Bowles, Regional Mayor commented: “This is fantastic news for our region. Our region’s new Institute of Future Technologies will attract more learners to higher education from under-represented groups in technical and higher education, addressing the emerging skills gaps in our economy. New learners will benefit from the technical skills and training programmes that will be provided by the institute – helping them into high skilled jobs in the West of England.”

Prime Minister Theresa May said: "These new institutes will help end outdated perceptions that going to university is the only desirable route and build a system which harnesses the talents of our young people."

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