Private sector partners are supporting proposals for a new university technical college focusing on the engineering, water and environmental sectors, which will be opened up to public consultation beginning next week.
University technical colleges are a new concept in education, to provide technically-orientated courses with students enrolling at ages 14 study technical subjects alongside the core GCSE subjects of English, maths, science and IT, integrating academic requirements with practical learning.
Students will also be able to apply to study there, at the age of 16.
The proposal for the new institute in Newton Abbot is being submitted by a partnership including the University of Exeter, South Devon College, Teignbridge District Council, Devon County Council and private sector partners Centrax, Galliford Try, South West Water and the Federation of Small Businesses, along with social enterprise Water Aid, and MP Anne Marie Morris.
Working closely with employers to develop its courses, the South Devon UTC will offer places for up to 600 students, who will develop their employability skills and undertake extensive work experience during their studies. They will then progress to university, or to jobs as technicians and apprentices. If the proposal is successful, the school is scheduled to open in 2014/15.
Employers will be able to identify talented future employees and inject fresh ideas into their companies through extended work placements and project work. They will also be invited to support and mentor students throughout their time in the UTC.
Plymouth has already had the go-ahead to launch its own marine-engineering based UTC, which is due to open in September next year and will be based at the site of the former Parkside school, in Devonport,
Public consultations over the South Devon UCT will be held next Tuesday from 6pm at the University of Exeter's Harrison Building. Further events will be held at Coombeshead School in Newton Abbot on October 18 and at South Devon College in Paignton on October 25.
A formal bid will be submitted to the Department for Education prior to a November 16 deadline, with a decision to be announced by March 28.
University of Exeter deputy vice-chancellor, Janice Kay, said: "The University Technical College will play a key role in inspiring Devon's young people to consider higher education and an engineering or science career."
South Devon College principal Stephen Criddle said: "We see the concept embodied in the UTC as central to the way to train our young people for jobs of the future in the local economy. "