Municipal and district ports could play a role in the new technical university | Local News | New

AMBITIOUS plans are moving forward to establish a technical university in South Essex, backed by leading employers including the Port of Tilbury and DP World in Thurrock.

The new university could see first degree apprenticeships offered next year.

The South Essex Association of Local Authorities (ASELA) says it hopes to enroll students in a range of vocational courses from September.

The association is currently in talks for a university to join the system for validating diploma courses, but it is unlikely that they will be provided in a university establishment.

Instead, businesses in South Essex including Ford, DP World, Leonardo and Olympus and the Port of Tilbury will offer workplace courses on site.

The association, formed by the councils of Brentwood, Castle Point, Rochford, Southend, Thurrock and Essex, says the technical university has “the potential to transform current higher education provision with a comprehensive and cohesive portfolio of courses apprenticeships in the workplace, including diploma apprenticeships, both for young people and the retraining of existing employees”.

Ian Gilbert, economic recovery, regeneration and housing adviser at Southend Council, said: “We’re not really talking about a traditional campus-based university. Tilbury Port, Ford, Tilbury Airport Southend and a few other big companies are very interested in it.

“We are looking for an academic partner who would validate the degrees but will learn with jobs in various companies. The plan is to welcome the first students by September 2023. We would start with a small cohort and build on that.”

Mr Gilbert added: ‘The courses are not finalized but it will be things like engineering, ITC and business administration.

In a report, ASELA said: “The program will reach out into the school system to encourage students from communities that historically would not have seen higher skills as accessible.

“A full business case is in preparation which will outline the steps to be taken to recruit a higher education provider to offer the first tranche of degree learning courses from September 2023.

“The association’s joint committee is working on a business case and financial model for the university and the creation of a business advisory forum to support broader business interest around the university.

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