Ron Dearing UTC expands a year before opening

Ron Dearing UTC expands a year before opening

A University Technical College (UTC) scheduled to open in Hull next year has expanded to accommodate an extra 50 student places in its first intake, in response to huge demand.

The Ron Dearing UTC will focus on engineering and digital skills and is backed by the University of Hull and a number of employers, including communications provider KCOM, engineering business Spencer Group, and Siemens.

The new UTC had planned to take on 150 students for its first year, beginning September 2017, but applications have already outstripped that target, so a successful application to the Department for Education will allow it to increase this intake to 200 students.

Principal Sarah Pashley (pictured) said the news was “really encouraging”.

If we receive sufficient demand to take us over the new level of 200 places, we can choose to reapply to the DfE to request a further increase

“We expected the UTC to be popular, but we’ve been surprised by how quickly the applications have come in,” she said.

Almost 200 applications have already been received for the 100 places each available in years 10 and 12, but Ms Pashley stressed that students who want to attend should continue to apply up to the end of January, as “places will not be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis”, and capacity might even expand further.

“If we receive sufficient demand to take us over the new level of 200 places, we can choose to reapply to the DfE to request a further increase,” she said.

“We want to stress we will not go over more than 150 in any year group and 600 in total.”

FE Week asked Mrs Pashley what she felt set her UTC apart from certain others which have closed amid reports of low student numbers, such as UTC Lancashire, Central Bedfordshire UTC, Hackney UTC and Black Country UTC.

“The biggest positive about Ron Dearing UTC is that our employer sponsors and Hull University are extremely proactively involved in the whole project,” she added.

“They’re not paying lip service to this; they are involved from leadership and governance right down to choosing the qualifications, developing the projects.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “UTCs have a vital role to play by providing young people with the technical knowledge and skills employers are after, and it is encouraging that the Ron Dearing UTC is proving so popular.”