Jaguar engineers offered university assistance

Engineers at Jaguar will be among thousands of people offered assistance by universities to help them through the downturn.

Brunel University in west London is to offer researched-based masters degrees to engineers from the car company threatened with redundancy, as part of a government-backed scheme.

It is one of 70 projects receiving cash from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) to provide help for local businesses and fight an expected drop in graduate jobs.

A total of £27m has been provided on the grounds that it will be matched by universities and other bodies, and is intended to offer practical help to 50,000 people and 11,700 firms.

The approved schemes will offer 2,000 internships and work placements to new graduates. There will also be short courses for workers on reduced hours; vouchers for the unemployed for training and help looking for work; and a range of initiatives to help businesses.

Brunel will receive £499,002 for its programme focusing on the manufacturing and automotive sectors, which includes offering the research-based masters degrees to Jaguar engineers.

London Metropolitan University will run Dragon's Den-style competitions as part of its measures, while Cambridge University will receive £498,559 to help small and medium-sized manufacturing firms.

Higher education minister David Lammy hailed the projects, saying: "Universities are demonstrating that they can be a lifeline for families by offering targeted short courses to adults who have lost their jobs and by supporting small businesses by connecting them to graduates and expertise within universities.

"It is particularly encouraging to see that over 2,000 internships and work placements with universities and local businesses have been approved, which will be an important part of the government's proposals to increase the numbers available to students graduating this summer."

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