Published on 22/05/2024
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Aston University transport planning undergraduate winner of Midlands Student of the Year award calls for more degree apprenticeships
Fran Leonard
  • Fran Leonard was named G4C Midlands Student of the Year, which celebrates young achievers in construction 
  • She is in the fifth year of the Transport Planning Degree Apprenticeship.
  • Degree apprenticeships “… create a unique partnership between the employer, student and the university.”

An Aston University undergraduate named as Midlands Student of the Year is calling for more degree apprenticeships in the construction sector to be made available.

Degree apprenticeships offer a work-based route to higher education to those who are already established in their careers, as well as school leavers. 

Fran Leonard is in the fifth year of the BSc (Hons) Transport Planning Degree Apprenticeship.

In March she was awarded the G4C Midlands Student of the Year Award, which celebrates young achievers in construction, and the companies who support and train future leaders of the industry.

After receiving her award, she commented on her hopes to see more apprenticeship opportunities. She said: “I believe that apprenticeships are a great way to learn the skills to apply in the workplace. They create unique partnership between the employer, student, and the university. 

“I would encourage government, employees, and universities to expand degree apprenticeships, creating new opportunities and cultivating the new talent we need to close an increasing skill gap. 

“I would highly recommend this career and education pathway, which has allowed me the opportunity to simultaneously gain invaluable role experience and academic knowledge.” 

The 23-year-old from Solihull left school to become an apprentice with the design, engineering, architecture, planning, and advisory company Arup. So far in her career she has worked on major projects including HS2 and the Commonwealth Games and now hopes to become a chartered transport planner, which is considered a mark of professional competency. 

One of Fran’s lecturers and head of Aston University’s Department of Engineering Systems and Supply Chain Management, Dr Lucy Rackliff, said: “I was delighted when I heard that Fran had won the student of the year award which looks for exemplars who stand out from the crowd with great achievements and make a difference to the industry in which they work.

“The judges noted that Fran’s submission for the student of the year category showed her academic experience is strongly carried over to a professional practical setting. Her success illustrates the benefits of degree apprenticeships.”

Degree apprenticeships are designed in conjunction with employers and professional bodies to fill skill gaps in business and industry, apprenticeships give learners the knowledge and know-how to further their career and obtain a full degree - with no fees and no student debt

Notes to editors

About Aston University
For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.
Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.
Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming The Guardian University of the Year in 2020.
Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.
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Nicola Jones,
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