THE University of Bolton has announced plans to open a multimillion pound “tech college” for teenagers.
A bid for £10 million worth of funding has been made by the university to develop a University Technical College (UTC) for 14- to-19-year-olds at its campus. If successful, young people would be able to quit their current school and attend the UTC as early as September, 2014.
This would allow them to concentrate on training for specific jobs in industry — which the university says employers are finding hard to fill. UTCs are a new Government scheme to open 34 colleges across the country which specialise in technical studies and are sponsored by a university.
The University of Bolton has submitted its outline plans for a UTC and will hear early in the new year whether the bid is through to the next stage.
The university’s Vice Chancellor Dr George Holmes said: “Employers need young people with specific skills and it is these very work-focused skills that our UTC aims to address. The learning experience will provide direct entry to employment and higher education opportunities on graduation from the UTC.”
The university says there is a need for a UTC in the area to help tackle skills gap in engineering, manufacturing and medical technology.
Local and national employers have worked with the university to help shape the curriculum to ensure the students can meet the needs of modern industry.
Students at the UTC would combine the national curriculum with technical qualifications and practical experience, and employers would provide support and work experience.
The move comes as university is is in the process of making cuts after having millions wiped of its budget as student numbers fell by just under 200 this academic year.
This is being blamed on the rise in tuition fees and stricter controls on international students.
Final decisions on the UTC are expected in March and, if given the go-ahead, the university’s Holts Mill building would be redeveloped to house the UTC.
Building would be completed by July, 2014, and the college would be open to students in September, 2014.
The university wants student numbers to rise from 90 in the first year to an annual intake of 150 by 2017.
The £10 million cost of the building work and the annual £3 million for running the college would be met by the Government.
If the proposals go through to the next stage, the university will be inviting further support from the community and businesses.