The first engineering school to be built in the UK in 40 years will launch tomorrow in Hereford.
Backed by other universities, engineers and the government, the New Model in Technology and Engineering (NMITE) is expected to open its doors in September 2017 to 300 students, expanding to 5000 over a decade.
The institution will be a specialist engineering university and it aims to tackle the growing shortage of graduates and skills that employers seek.
“Tomorrow marks the point at which Britain gets a new university to help address the country's chronic shortage of suitable technology and engineering graduates,” Karen Usher, co-leader of the development team, said.
The demand for engineers remains high, as the IET’s most recent survey has shown, with more than half of the 400 companies that were interviewed looking to recruit engineers and more reporting difficulties in finding the people they need.
It also emphasised that for the ninth year running the skills gap has increased and now stands at 44 per cent of employers stating that engineering, IT and technical recruits did not meet reasonable expectations for level of skills.
Engineering has hit a wall in terms of capacity and getting more young people to take up engineering courses could be part of the solution, which has been widely circulated amongst advocacy groups, industry professionals and politicians alike.
The degree will build on a traditional engineering curriculum, but with more focus on analytical and creative thinking while taking up the teaching approach of America's Olin College of Engineering – one of NMITE’s advisers.
“It will be about not just giving Britain more great engineering graduates, but importantly graduates who will be equipped additionally with the broader business, innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership skills that British employers need but find to be in very short supply,” said Usher.
NMITE, a not-for-profit organisation, will be run like a company with a management team led by a CEO – yet to be announced, including up to six senior executives.
The running costs of the university, once launched, will be met though tuition fees and additional funding from industry. The project is expected to raise at least £20m to build the campus from private capital as well as government and EU funding.
“The Chancellor of the Exchequer expressed his support for the project in his speech in the Midlands last month, and I am working closely with Treasury officials and the Universities Minister to help take the project to the next stage,” Jesse Norman, MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, said.
The first intake of students is likely to graduate with a degree awarded by one of the university partners, possibly Warwick upon validation of the degree later in 2015.