Funding secured for Aston University Engineering Academy Birmingham

Aston University Engineering Academy
Aston University Engineering Academy

31st March 2010

Aston University is celebrating today after plans for a new £17m Engineering Academy in Birmingham were given funding approval from Government Minister Ed Balls.  

The Aston University Engineering Academy, which is led and sponsored by Aston University, is seen as vital in raising the aspirations of young engineers and developing a creative and innovative workforce for the region and beyond.

The 600 place Academy, due to open in September 2012, will allow pupils aged from 14 to 19 years old to specialise in engineering and manufacturing alongside core GCSE subjects. Students will have the opportunity to work with Aston University engineering staff and students as well as local and national industry.

The Academy will work closely with further education colleges including Birmingham Metropolitan College and secondary schools across Birmingham to create clear progression routes to further and higher education or directly into industry. It will become the first in a national network of University Technical Colleges (UTC) for 14 to 19 year olds as proposed by Lord Baker and the late Ron Dearing.

Pro Vice Chancellor at Aston University, Prof Alison Halstead, who is leading this project, said: “We are delighted to be able to implement the University’s vision of raising aspirations for the study of engineering in the city. There will be a key focus on skills leading into education and local industry to help support the next generation of creative and innovative engineers. “This facility will play a key role in addressing the region’s skills gap and ensuring that together we can foster a passion and enthusiasm for engineering that will enable us to produce a new generation of innovated and talented students. We want to help deliver the workforce needed to power an engineering renaissance.”

Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls, said; “Birmingham has a great industrial history so I’m absolutely delighted to give the green light to the college and to create the next generation of engineers in the city. It is will be a groundbreaking and dynamic academy, where students will work hand-in-hand with Aston University and employers. Its focus on robust, high quality qualifications like the engineering diploma and apprenticeships will give students an outstanding grounding for future careers in industry and study at top universities.”

The new academy, designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, is being built through the support of Birmingham City Council, and will be constructed near to Aston University at Birmingham Science Park Aston.


For further information please contact Alex Earnshaw, Aston University Communications on 0121 204 4549

Notes to editors;

  • The University Technical Colleges initiative has been proposed and promoted by former education secretary Lord Baker and the late Lord Dearing as a bridge between vocational and academic education.

  • The new Academy will support the newly launched Vocational Diplomas and Young Apprenticeships for 14-19 year olds.

  • It will also enable students to achieve GCSEs in English, Maths, Science and IT which will be learnt alongside the chosen vocational specialisms.

  • University Technology Colleges will aim to prepare students to work for an apprenticeship, a Foundation Degree or other HE qualifications with the help of the local sponsoring university.

  • The Aston University Engineering Academy, Birmingham is being supported by Birmingham Metropolitan College  – a Centre of Vocational Excellence in engineering – Rolls-Royce plc, National Grid, E. ON, Metrology Ltd, Sterling Power Group Ltd and the Veolia Environmental Development Centre Ltd.

  • It will be non-selective and students will be drawn from across the city.

  • The Aston University Engineering Academy, Birmingham is one of the eight academies proposed by Birmingham City Council and one of two new build specialist centres. The other is the Birmingham Ormiston Academy – Digital Media, Creative and Performing Arts, focused on preparing youngsters from the West Midlands for careers in the creative industries.

  • Six secondary schools are earmarked to become Birmingham Academies – The Heartlands High (Nechells), The College High (Erdington), St Albans (Highgate), Sheldon Heath (Sheldon), Shenley Court (Northfield) and Harborne Hill (Edgbaston).

  • Lord Baker is a former Secretary of State for Education and Science. He introduced the National Curriculum, City Technology Colleges – the predecessor of Academies – and enlarged the roles of universities and the former polytechnics.

  • The late Lord Dearing was a cross Bench Peer specialising in education. He chaired the last major review of Higher Education and in making reviews of the school curriculum proposed provision for a vocational programme post 14.