Government announces £490m education investment

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The government has announced almost £490m in funding for universities and colleges across the UK to help deliver better science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education.

The fund will contribute to better facilities, equipment and course development in several different disciplines.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak said: “Investing in education and skills will unlock future growth, boost productivity and help build the skilled workforce of the future.

“That’s why we’re spending £490m to support high-quality teaching and world-class facilities in universities and colleges right across the country.

“Whether it’s in aerospace engineering or green tech, this funding will provide young people with the support they need to build a great career.”

The UK is currently suffering from a skills gap in the tech sector, with some saying greater focus is needed on encouraging more young people into STEM – there has been an increase in students applying for degree programmes in computer science this year.

Although there are many initiatives aimed at increasing the STEM learning in the UK, problems remain, such as teachers feeling they do not have the skills they need to teach topics such as coding, and differences in funding for schools in certain areas.

Of the government’s proposed funding, £432m will be distributed among 100 colleges and universities over the next three years to invest in new facilities and equipment.

About £57m is earmarked for 20 education providers teaching subject areas in most need in the UK, allowing them to offer more courses in subjects such as cancer research, public health and tropical diseases.

Projects include a £1.2m investment in Yeovil College for facilities and equipment to help teach students about hydrogen cell technology in aerospace engineering, and £5.8m for Bradford College’s Garden Mills project, which will contribute to the teaching of subjects such as digital and science.

Grantham College will use its £1.08m share of the fund to invest in mechanical, manufacturing and hydraulics engineering equipment so that it can offer more short courses for subjects that are in demand, and the University of Plymouth will use £5.8m for a design and engineering facility as part of an ongoing investment into its STEM teaching capabilities.

Education secretary Gillian Keegan said: “This investment is about making sure students get the highest-quality training in key subjects which are driving economic growth. That means access to top-of-the-range facilities which prepare people for the workplace, filling skills gaps and levelling up the whole country.

“From Yeovil to Durham, we are backing the industries of the future and giving people the skills they need to succeed.

“Students will have access to high-quality training environments in vital subjects including engineering, medicine and science, that will help get more people into jobs with higher wages, plug local skills gaps and support economic growth.”

The government says this funding builds on the £150m investment the Office for Students has made into projects such as better clinical facilities at Aston University, investment into five initiatives at the University of Warwick to increase STEM teaching and learning at several levels, and facilities for Coventry University to teach new allied health courses.

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