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University of Westminster to receive share of £1.7 million HEFCE funding to address engineering skills shortage in industry

Electronic Engineering 16 March 2016

Man drawing a circuit

Helping career conversion to engineering and computer science, the University of Westminster is one of the 32 universities and colleges which will develop a total of 28 courses from a major £1.7 million fund, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) announced.

The University’s Department of Engineering will design and deliver a pilot programme in the 2016/17 academic year that will see launching a unique, interdisciplinary conversion MSc course and a Higher Apprenticeship in Electrical Engineering for Modern Sustainable Transport Systems. The programme will help address the notorious skills shortage and lack of diversity through higher education for practitioners in the transport industries.

The conversion Masters in Electrical Engineering is an extension of the University’s partnership with our Employer Alliance – with Network Rail as lead employer and including other employers such as Alstom and BT Fleet – through which the Sir Simon Milton University Technical College (UTC) Westminster is planned to open in Victoria, London in 2017 offering a range of engineering courses. The Employer Alliance will also play a part in designing and supporting the new conversion Masters course jointly with the University’s Department of Engineering through module content design, co-delivery, mentoring and coaching, and industry placements.

A total of 60 students will take up a place under the scheme, 30 full-time or part-time at Masters level in the Department of Engineering at Westminster and 30 on the Higher Apprenticeship pathway through closely linked collaboration of the Department of Engineering and the UTC.

The scheme will be rolled out under the direction of Professor Izzet Kale, Head of Department of Engineering at Westminster, who conceived the idea of the interdisciplinary programme in response to HEFCE’s call to address the need in the sector.

Professor Kale said: “Electrical engineering is one of the cornerstones of technological advance in many fields and has been at the heart of many transport systems for well over a century. However there has been a steady decline in the number of qualified electrical engineers with most of the practitioners in the field having an increased age profile with limited overarching knowhow in the cross disciplinary aspects of electrical engineering. These include electronics, instrumentation, communications and computer systems that are key to the development of modem and sustainable transport systems of the future.”

Professor Jane Lewis, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, said: “I am delighted to see HEFCE support for the development of these engineering conversion degrees designed to address skills shortfalls in industry. The Faculty of Science and Technology is looking forward to working closely with the University's Employers Alliance on both this and the development of the Sir Simon Milton UTC Westminster to provide education for the professions associated with modern sustainable transport systems. This rapidly developing and expanding industry is a key opportunity for the employment of young people and the new degrees will provide the means for more to achieve their potential in this exciting sector.”

Bill Templeton, Lead for National Apprenticeships Programme at Network Rail, said: “The launch of the MSc course and the Higher Apprenticeship in Electrical Engineering for Modern Sustainable Transport Systems is a logical extension of Network Rail’s partnership with the University of Westminster and the Sir Simon Milton UTC Westminster. I envisage that these new programmes will be of interest to a number of other transport sector employers and graduates joining the industry.

“The proposed Higher Apprenticeship will be innovative both in concept and delivery mode. The proposal for parity between the academic and technical pathways at Level 7 is particularly welcome. The model of intensive block delivery supported by independent learning is an employer-friendly option which will make it easier for colleagues to manage workloads and participate in the programme.”

The Westminster programme will be delivered by the University’s Department of Engineering in the Faculty of Science and Technology in collaboration with Sir Simon Milton University Technical College (UTC) Westminster.

For further information about the MSc and Higher Apprenticeship in Electrical Engineering for Modern Sustainable Transport Systems, email Professor Izzet Kale, Head of Department of Engineering at Westminster, at [email protected].

Learn more about University Technical Colleges.

Image credit: ronstik / Shutterstock

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