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£10m bid to provide college for tomorrow's engineers

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 23, 2012

An artist's impression of the new university technical college which has been proposed for  Newton Abbot

An artist's impression of the new university technical college which has been proposed for Newton Abbot

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A near £10 million bid has been made to the Government to create a new technical college in Devon specialising in engineering and the environment.

The proposed South Devon University Technical College would be sited on Exeter Road, in Newton Abbot, and take 600 students aged 14-18.

The project has been developed by the University of Exeter, South Devon College, Teignbridge District Council alongside a range of employers. It aims to help to redress the lack of technicians available in the water, engineering and environmental industries, estimated at 450,000 nationally by 2020.

South Devon College principal Stephen Criddle said: "I have been amazed by the strength of partnership enthusiasm and support for an innovative highest quality university technical college development in engineering, water and the environment, which would really help support high quality skills and job aspirations in the local area.

"It's now fingers crossed that the Department for Education are equally positive in approving and funding such a ground breaking development."

A £9.7 million bid has been made to the Department for Education which includes the costs of a new building and up to £1 million of specialist engineering and science equipment.

If the bid is successful, the government will fund the revenue costs of the school on a per pupil basis, in line with other academy school funding.

Shortlisted projects will be announced next month with a final decision in the spring. If approved, the new college would open in September 2015.

Professor Janice Kay, deputy vice chancellor at the University of Exeter, said they were "proud" to be a partner in the project.

"At Exeter we champion the belief that the advancement of science, engineering and technology is fundamental to quality of life across the globe and we are committed to providing access to learning for as many young people as possible," Prof Kay said.

"The strength of the university technical college partnership speaks volumes regarding the regional requirement for more skilled scientists and engineers.

"The engagement of key employer partners and the support from local authorities for the technical college demonstrates the need for talented students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics."

Newton Abbot-based engineering company Centrax, South West Water, the Environment Agency and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) have all added their weight to the bid.

"We desperately need a university technical college to provide for school leavers who have a good work ethic and a passion for working in the engineering sector," Denis Parsons, human resources manager at Centrax, said.

"At the moment with our annual intake of apprentices we have to start from scratch to develop these skills. We want these bright youngsters to get a great technical education and then we need to keep these skilled technicians in the area."

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