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Three Birmingham education partners will work together with employers to equip students with skills to face the future

An innovative Birmingham education partnership has received funding to develop new and enhanced courses that will help provide the skills needed in the Midlands’ future economy.

The University of Birmingham, University College Birmingham and South & City College are set to work together with the region’s employers to provide education programmes that will equip students with skills to face the future.

Following last summer’s announcement of a new collaboration between the University of Birmingham and University College Birmingham, the partnership has now won the maximum £200,000 national funding from HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England).

The partnership will use the HEFCE funding to help develop new and enhanced higher education courses that support the aims of the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

Backed by five employers, the universities will work with South & City College Birmingham to develop a new curriculum focussed on Electrical and Electronic Engineering, which will boost students’ digital, technical and employment skills alongside ‘core’ academic content.

The project aims to plug the gap in provision between FE Colleges - which tend to take more vocationally-focussed students - and research-intensive universities, which traditionally admit more academically focused students.

University of Birmingham Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir David Eastwood commented: “The University of Birmingham and University College Birmingham will work together with employers across the region to harness the strengths of each institution for the benefit of young and mature learners and the Midlands’ economy.

“We are delighted to receive funding from HEFCE that will help us to create new, innovative developments that support the regional skills agenda helping students move from Further to Higher Education.”

University College Birmingham Vice-Chancellor & Principal, Professor Ray Linforth commented: “Alongside The University of Birmingham and South and City College Birmingham, we look forward to leading the way in developing innovative education and training pathways that will benefit the region and its young people”

South and City College Birmingham Principal Mike Hopkins commented: “We are very pleased to have received this funding which will help even more of our Engineering students progress to university. We are looking forward to working with local employers, UCB and the University of Birmingham to deliver training which is innovative and engaging for students, and at the same time meets the needs of the local economy.”

Over 30 universities and colleges in England have each been awarded up to £200,000 of project funding from HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund programme, with additional investment provided by the universities and colleges involved, employers and other partners.

The HEFCE funding is designed to support universities and colleges in co-developing and co-designing courses with national and local employers.

Across the country, this funding is supporting a range of projects in many different sectors which align with the Industrial Strategy’s ‘Grand Challenges’ – from advanced engineering to data analytics, and from artificial intelligence to bioscience.

HEFCE’s investment will help to enhance graduate outcomes and employability, and upskill the workforce - providing the key skills that industry and employers will need and contributing to UK productivity in the longer term.

HEFCE Chief Executive, Professor Madeleine Atkins, said: "We were delighted with the quality of proposals received for this funding call and particularly the impressive levels of engagement between higher education and industry.

‘This investment represents important support for the government’s Industrial Strategy. The funding will provide new courses and vital skill developments in key industrial sectors across the country, from which students, the workforce and employers all stand to benefit."

• The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries.
• University College Birmingham is a specialist institution, delivering both Higher Education degrees and Further Education courses, with a 70/30 split in favour of undergraduate and postgraduate study. Degree courses have a strong vocational focus and feature industrial placements in both the UK and overseas.
• South and City College Birmingham is one of the largest further education colleges in the country, with over 20,000 students and 8 campuses across the city.
• HEFCE is the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Its Catalyst fund provides targeted investment in projects led by universities and colleges.
• The fund supports a range of student and HE sector priorities, including innovation in higher education, efficiency and effectiveness, skills and employability, and student interest issues.
• Universities and colleges will work with industry to develop higher education provision across a number of important sectors which align with the ‘Grand Challenges’ identified in the Industrial Strategy. These include:

• Mechanical and Advanced Engineering, Construction and Manufacturing
• Digital skills, cyber security and artificial intelligence
• Data analytics
• Nuclear skills
• Nursing, health and social care, and medical technologies
• Bioscience
• Creative design
• Flood-resilient engineering and infrastructure development
• Renewable energy systems