Engineering Academy and research showcased to Austrian delegation

Austrian HTI delegation
Austrian HTI delegation visits Aston University

27 May 2011

A delegation of Austrian academics has visited Aston University to discover more about the Institution’s engineering research and involvement in the UK’s first University sponsored Engineering Academy for 14-19 year old aspiring engineers.

The principals and senior staff members, all from Higher Technical Institutes (HTI’s) in Austria toured Aston’s facilities, meeting with lecturers, researchers and students. Austrian HTI’s are technology and craft orientated higher colleges, which specialise in engineering disciplines

The delegation viewed the site of the new Aston University Engineering Academy, which is due to open September 2012. Based at Birmingham Science Park, Aston, adjacent to the University, it will allow up to 600 pupils aged from 14 to 19 years old to focus on engineering alongside core GCSE subjects.  

Research showcased in the tour include a hydrogen powered car, designed and built by Aston students; bioenergy labs developing algae and sewage sludge for alternative energy sources and the University’s involvement in the innovative Conceive, Design, Implement & Operate (CDIO) learning initiative.

Lee Kilgour, Principal Designate of Aston University Engineering Academy, who met with the delegation, said; “Austrian HTIs play an important part in the country’s vocational education, particularly in engineering. Our new £17m Aston academy will provide students with real industry experience, so we were delighted to welcome the delegation and to discuss the potential for future collaborations.”

Professor Alison Halstead, Pro Vice Chancellor at Aston, added; “Aston University will be working closely with the new Academy to help raise the aspirations of young engineers and develop a creative and innovative workforce for the region and beyond.  Vocational education is particularly strong in Austria, so we’re delighted to showcase Aston University, the new Academy and the strong engineering skills base of the West Midlands.”

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


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

Notes to editors;

  • The UK’s University Technical Colleges initiative, which includes the Aston University Engineering Academy, 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 Aston University Engineering 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.