A bid to establish an Institute of Technology in the Coast to Capital region has taken a significant step forward.
Led by Chichester College Group (CCG), a consortium including the University of Sussex, University of Brighton and North East Surrey College of Technology (Nescot) is bidding for £13million of Government funding to enhance higher level skills training across the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) region.
The proposal put forward has been successful in passing a highly competitive first stage and has been shortlisted to a final competitive stage.
The investment would create new cutting-edge facilities for higher level technical training with a focus on digital and sustainable technologies across a number of sectors including engineering and construction.
The proposed Institute of Technology (IoT) would include a new state-of-the-art hub at Crawley College, housing engineering and digital ‘Learning Factories’ with specialist satellites for delivery at locations across the region, from East Surrey and the Gatwick Diamond to rural West Sussex and coastal communities.
Julie Kapsalis, Managing Director of Chichester College Group, said: “Our IoT will create an exciting new partnership between higher education, further education and employers to deliver an innovative new curriculum which will address the region’s current and future skills needs.
“Working in collaboration with the Universities of Sussex and Brighton and Nescot, we’ll be sharing the best of higher education research and teaching with vocationally-driven further education colleges.
“This reflects our commitment to raising aspirations and supporting widening participation in higher education, particularly for under-represented groups across society.
“We hope this will also help to address the disproportionate economic impact of Covid-19 in the region and the need to provide essential reskilling and upskilling opportunities to enable the region’s recovery.”
Sue Baxter, Director, Innovation & Business Partnerships at the University of Sussex, added: “The University of Sussex is keen to play a strong role in the speedy recovery of our regional economy.
“Working with our core educational partners to equip local people for the skills of tomorrow through the Institute of Technology is one of a number of ways we are utilising our expertise to meet that challenge.”
IoTs form a key part of the Government’s policy to increase higher technical education across the country, as it aims to encourage more people to continue studying as well as attracting people of all ages to upskill or retrain.
In particular, they are designed to spearhead the delivery of higher technical education in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, bring colleges and universities together with employers to equip local economies with a skilled workforce.
Frances Rutter, Chief Executive and Principal at Nescot, said: “We are delighted to be working in collaboration with partners to develop the future of STEM education.
“Institutes of Technology inspire people of all ages to challenge themselves and invest in their skills, and together we are making a very strong case to bring an IoT to our region.
“Nescot’s expertise and values fit perfectly with the IoT ethos and it’s very exciting to be taking the proposal to the next stage.”
Viki Faulkner, Head of Apprenticeships at the University of Brighton, added: “These plans complement the University of Brighton’s existing diverse, technically astute approach to educating the professionals of tomorrow.
“We welcome smoother progression pathways for learners from all backgrounds, to work alongside our degree apprenticeships portfolio, and even closer collaboration with our employers, further education and higher education partners to deliver the skills we need in the region.”