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Professor Karen Bryan: Hallam's UTC sponsorship delivers mutual benefits

Media centre home > Feature and comment > Professor Karen Bryan: Hallam's UTC sponsorship delivers mutual benefits

Published: 11/12/15

Sheffield Hallam University is extremely proud to be a part of the introduction and expansion of local University Technical Colleges, providing young people with the chance to benefit from a rich learning experience that will prepare them brilliantly for work or further study upon completion of their qualifications.

Together with our partners at The Sheffield College and the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, we are co-sponsors of not one, but two University Technical Colleges in Sheffield.

Back in 2013 UTC Sheffield City Centre was the first in Yorkshire to open its doors. It specialises in advanced engineering and manufacturing and creative and digital - which were chosen because there is a concentration of local employers who need skilled young people to fill good jobs with long-term prospects. In fact more than 40 employers are involved in the curriculum including Siemens Plc, Rolls-Royce and Warp Films.

Since opening, Sheffield's first UTC has been an unmitigated success story. It has successfully attracted students from across our region, which has been aided by the strong teaching and learning offer.

This is demonstrated by the fact UTC Sheffield teams clinched a gold, silver and bronze in this year’s WorldSkillsUK event - competing against colleges, employers and universities from across the country. In fact four UTC Sheffield students have also been selected for the Squad UK with the chance to compete on the global stage at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017.

As a sign of this success a second UTC, UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park campus, will open in September 2016 - offering specialist study in Human Sciences and Computing alongside core subjects. As a co-sponsor we are looking forward to providing its pupils with exciting, real-world challenges across the fields of healthcare, sport science and wellbeing, and computing - on a site which will also house our ground-breaking Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC).

Both UTCs in Sheffield have become part of one multi-academy trust with a single board of directors, of which I am a Trustee. This makes sponsoring both institutions both practical and even more beneficial in terms of opportunities for collaboration.

As a major Sheffield institution with strong partnerships across the region, we have a long tradition of working for the wider benefit of our local community. This commitment to civic duty is our primary motivation behind being involved with this exciting new development in 14 to 19 education. However, the partnership has also provided many mutually beneficial opportunities.

Having young people gain a better understanding of the exciting things higher education can lead to, and becoming familiar with Sheffield Hallam, has obvious benefits. When these young people consider further studies we will be at the forefront of their thoughts, especially as we can offer the next natural step in many of their chosen career paths - which, in turn, will help to address the regional skills gap.

As well as helping to meet the demands of regional business simply by being part of the UTC partnership, our sponsorship also raises our profile within the wider business community. Being associated with providing high quality young people with bespoke skills is an advantage. Particularly as this approach replicates many of our degree courses and new higher and degree apprenticeship programmes.

In addition there are some real practical benefits collaboration can bring. For example, UTC students have worked with our researchers on a unique virtual reality and prosthetics design pilot project. Using technology including 'Oculus Rift', a headset that allows the wearer to feel as though they are in a virtual reality world, students have tested the effectiveness of their designs of prosthetic upper arm limbs for amputees.

Tests included simulating activities such as picking up a cereal packet, coin or bottle in a virtual kitchen. The project is now working with the NHS to undertake research with patients.

This is also a great example of how both organisations are working together to encourage more girls to consider studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

It shows how partnership working is providing some truly unique opportunities for UTC students to get involved in Sheffield Hallam's world-class research. Again, putting young people in a perfect position to take up further study with us upon completion of their qualifications. The fact that the second UTC will be located adjacent to our AWRC will mean that there will be even more opportunities for similar collaboration in the future.

Our University Technical College sponsorship is helping many young people fulfil their academic and personal ambitions, changing their lives for the better. But it is also a mutually beneficial partnership that is delivering numerous benefits, which we can only see becoming stronger in the years ahead.


The author:


Professor Karen Bryan

Professor Karen Bryan is Pro Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing.

"As a major Sheffield institution with strong partnerships across the region, we have a long tradition of working for the wider benefit of our local community. This commitment to civic duty is our primary motivation behind being involved with this exciting new development in 14 to 19 education."