The number of University Technical Colleges (UTCs) is set to hit 50 after six more of the institutions offering vocational education to 14 to 18-year-olds got the go-ahead from the Department for Education (DfE).
The newly-announced UTCs will be located in Bolton, Peterborough, Scunthorpe and Warrington, with two in London.
The colleges were the brainchild of former Education Secretary Lord Baker, and offer a mixture of academic study, including maths, English, science, foreign language, history and geography, alongside a technical curriculum geared towards a particular industry. They are run through a partnership between local universities, FE colleges and employers.
Lord Baker said: “This announcement shows continued support and commitment from the government to increase the size and impact of the UTC movement. I am delighted UTCs enjoy all-party support.”
He hinted that more could be in the pipeline, with a further round of applications to open UTCs in 2016 closing on May 9.
“Several applications were very close to approval and the DfE has said that they will provide additional support for their reapplications before the next deadline,” he said.
The two new London UTCs will join one in Greenwich, another in Elstree, as well as planned UTCs in Watford, Tottenham, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Heathrow and Dagenham.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “I welcome the government’s decision to back two new UTCs in London.
“They offer young people the chance to gain important technical skills and the qualifications they will need to compete in a highly competitive jobs market.
“The Sir Simon Milton UTC and the Global Academy UTC will nurture the next generation of home-grown talent going into transport engineering, construction and our fast growing media technology sector.
“These are areas that are vital to London’s continued growth.”
The first UTCs have been opening over the last two years, and the latest announcement means that nationally, UTCs will potentially have the capacity to take on as many as 30,000 young people.
However, figures released in November showed that some were running at less than 30 per cent capacity.
The 150-pupil Central Bedfordshire UTC was just 30 per cent full for the last academic year, while the 480-pupil Black Country UTC, near Birmingham, was 36 per cent full.
A further three opened at the beginning of 2012/13 but the combined figure for all five UTCs was still only 57 per cent (825 pupils).
Lord Baker defended the low numbers, saying they would increase.
“What happens is that head teachers of state schools are allocated pupils by the local authority, but we have to go out and get our pupils with marketing,” he said, adding that UTCs had also been increasing their marketing skills.
The Tory peer has also proposed another brand of educational institutions, Career Colleges, which would focus on training students from 14 years old in areas including hospitality, tourism, finance, health and care and construction, but would be based at existing colleges.
Six new UTCs — a guide to where, who, what and how
Bolton UTC is partnered with Bolton College. It is sponsored by the University of Bolton and supported by employers the Cohens Group and Ravat and Ray Dental Care, with additional partners including Equity Solutions, NHS, Bolton Council, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and the North West Engineering Employers Federation Bolton UTC will specialise in health and engineering technologies, catering for 600 pupils.
Greater Peterborough UTC
Based in Peterborough, and led by Peterborough Regional College, this 500-place UTC will specialise in environmentally sustainable engineering and environmentally sustainable technologies in the built environment. It is sponsored by Anglia Ruskin University with employer sponsors including Anglian Water, The Larkfleet Group, and Marshall Aerospace
Global Academy UTC
The London-based Global Academy UTC will cater for up to 800 students and specialise in teaching technical skills for work in the broadcast media industry. It is led by radio group ‘This is Global Ltd’, in partnership with the University of the Arts, London, and the Meller Educational Trust and supported by Universal Music, Arqiva, Clifford Chance, BPI and RCS, Global.
Based in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, the Humber UTC is partnered with North Lindsey College as well as North Lincolnshire Council, North Lindsey College and Outwood Grange Academies Trust and is led by the University of Hull, It is supported by Able UK, Tata Steel Europe, Total Lindsey Oil Refinery and Centrica. It will specialise in engineering and renewables and will cater for 600 pupils.
Sir Simon Milton UTC
Sir Simon Milton UTC in Westminster will cater for 550 students and specialise in transport engineering and construction. Led by the Sir Simon Milton Foundation, in partnership with the University of Westminster and leading employers such as Network Rail, BT Fleet, Land Securities, TfL and Mace, and Westminster Council.
Warrington UTC in Cheshire is led by the University of Chester, in partnership with Warrington Borough Council and with support from Sellafield Ltd, Tenet Consultants, United Utilities, Boulting and AMEC. It will specialise in nuclear engineering and energy engineering, catering for 620 pupils.