A bid led by Chichester College Group (CCG) to create an Institute of Technology (IoT) has been approved by the Secretary of State for Education.
The project – led by CCG alongside the University of Sussex, University of Brighton and North East Surrey College of Technology (Nescot) – has the support of many of the region’s businesses including NatWest Group, Gatwick Airport Limited, Roche Diagnostics, Ricardo, Wates Group, Southern Water, Irwin Mitchell, Pearson, the Gatwick Diamond Initiative and Coast to Capital LEP.
Following a competitive procurement process, the winners (including six colleges and three universities) will split a £120 million capital funding pot to enhance higher level skills training across the UK.
In the Coast to Capital region, the investment will 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 new Institute of Technology (IoT) is set to include a new state-of-the-art centre at Crawley College, housing engineering and digital ‘Learning Factories’ with specialist satellites for delivery at locations across the region, including an Information and Communications Technology specialism at Nescot.
Julie Kapsalis, Managing Director at Chichester College Group and chair of the region’s bid consortium, said: “This is a huge development for our region and is testament to the power of partnership working between our colleges, universities and businesses. Our IoT will champion social mobility and widen participation in higher education; our courses will be designed and delivered in partnership with employers to meet their needs.
“The opportunity to establish an IoT in the region has been a unique catalyst for collaboration, bring together our institutions around a shared vision and objectives.”
Andrew Green, Chief Executive at Chichester College Group, added: “I am delighted that our proposal has been accepted and we are able to move forward with an Institute of Technology for our region.
“This is a vital opportunity for communities across Sussex, Surrey and Brighton & Hove, who will have access to an innovative and leading skills offer.
“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. I cannot thank all of the project partners enough for their support, as well as those who have worked so hard to develop this exciting project.”
The project is now at pre-award stage and work will continue over the coming months to finalise plans and timings with the DfE. The IoT Hub at Crawley, which will be a new build, is planned to be complete by March 2024 but delivery is planned to commence in advance of this.
Frances Rutter, Chief Executive and Principal at Nescot College, said: “We are delighted to be working in collaboration with partners to develop the future of STEM education through the new Institute of Technology.
“Nescot’s expertise and values fit perfectly with the IoT ethos and it’s very exciting to be involved in developing this valuable regional project.”
Professor Debra Humphris, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Brighton, commented: “This is fantastic news for people and businesses in our region. It will provide new pathways for learners from all backgrounds to expand their knowledge and develop valuable new skills that we know are in demand from local employers.
“Working closely with Chichester College Group, our Institute of Technology will create an exciting new partnership between universities, colleges and employers to deliver the technical skills we need now and in the future. It will complement and build on the University of Brighton’s strong track record of educating the professionals of tomorrow through high-quality, practice-based learning.”
Professor Ian Wakeman, Head of the School of Engineering and Informatics at University of Sussex, added: “We are very excited to be part of the new Coast 2 Capital Institute of Technology. Widening access and participation in higher education for the local region is core to the strategic vision of the University of Sussex.
“We are enthusiastic that the collaboration around the IoT will build a new educational ladder, providing technological education and learning for people at all stages of their career, from young people to those later in their career looking to rejoin the workforce or retrain whilst in employment.”
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.
The CCG-led consortium’s bid is one of nine projects to have been given pre-award status in the second wave of the Government’s IoT programme.