British Universities Commit to Engineering

In recent months universities across the UK have been showcasing their commitment to the future of British engineering, with the launch of new facilities or briefings on the new facilities to be constructed. 

This will be a boost for manufacturing – for example, in the oil and gas, pharmaceutical, energy and petrochemical sectors among others – after a 2014 survey by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) revealed a critical demand for engineers in the UK that is not being met, with more than 50% of the 400 companies questioned having difficulties finding high quality candidates.

In addition the survey revealed that, for the ninth consecutive year, there has been an increasing skills gap: 44% of employers stated that IT, technological and engineering applicants did not meet a reasonable level of expectation or skill. 

However, several of the country’s universities have announced and implemented investment in state-of-the-art facilities for the next generation of engineering students, among them the University of Sheffield, which has recently launched the Sheffield Engineering Leadership Academy (SELA), a scheme to develop leaders in the sector. Notably, it is the first extracurricular leadership scheme by a UK university to cover all the engineering disciplines.

The University of Sheffield has also invested in an £81 million building called the Diamond, dedicated to teaching engineering. Due to open in September 2015, it will enable 1,600 additional engineering students to be taught by 2020.

Furthermore, in May the university submitted of its masterplan for the next phase of its Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, billed as “a step towards the development of the UK’s first Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District”.

Lancaster University, which recently opened a new engineering building to replace older facilities that had been in operation on the campus since the 1960s. The new site will provide the opportunity to study recent new specialisms, such as nuclear and chemical engineering.

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) has received a cash injection of £10.5 million from the government for its own flagship Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC) that is scheduled to open in 2018. The overall funding pot now stands at more than £30 million.

Established universities aside, a completely new engineering school – the first of its kind to be built in 40 years – is to be built in Hereford with an expected opening in 2017. The New Model in Technology and Engineering (NMITE) is expected to expand its intake from 300 students initially to 5,000 over the next decade.