A new proposal for location of UTC Swindon would see the exciting new educational development situated at the centre of Swindon’s engineering history.
The new site under considerationfor the new University Technical College is located close to the town’s railway village and the GWR Park – on the Mill Site – would incorporate buildings at the most westerly extent of the estate currently owned by Network Rail in Bristol Street. If it gets the go ahead it would include the use of the old school building, the mill building and Fire Station Yard. See the aerial image below.
A final decision on this location, which has already been subject to a buildings feasibility study, will depend on lease negotiations and approval of government funding.
This site is of particular significance as its heritage is associated with the Great Western Railway Company. It is therefore fitting that the area could again produce some of the country’s finest engineers.
A statutory period of public consultation, as required by the process of development of a University Technical College, will begin in February and provide opportunities for comments on the proposed UTC Swindon. The partner organisations involved are Oxford Brookes University, which already has a presence in the town, Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells, based in Swindon, and Swindon Borough Council.
Paul Inman, Pro Vice Chancellor at Oxford Brookes University, said: “We are delighted to be announcing our preferred site for UTC Swindon on a location of such historical significance.
"UTC Swindon is a leading-edge educational initiative, which will offer a 14 to 19 curriculum devised by a leading vocational university and a premier league engineering company. It will be a game changer for technical education in the UK.
“What’s particularly exciting about the project is the groundswell of local support for its success. We have been inundated with offers from local and national companies and individuals wanting to contribute in whatever way they can. It is very much a team effort, backed up by cross party support and seed funding from Swindon Borough Council.”
Paul Holmes, Automation and Mechanical Design Manager for Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells and UTC Swindon Director, said: “If this site can get the go ahead it would be a fantastic opportunity to create a careful blend of restored historic and new iconic buildings in the heart of Swindon’s industrial heritage.
“It will offer a new and innovative way of learning and delivering a curriculum developed by employers in the real world engineering workplace. A lot of hard work has gone into getting the project to this stage, but there is still much work to be done to finalise the site.”
Cllr David Renard, Deputy Leader of Swindon Borough Council and the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, added: "I am so impressed by how well all partners are working together to ensure the UTC Swindon becomes a reality and a success. The proposed location will not only be easy for students to access but will also breathe new life into part of our heritage. I will continue to work with all parties on the delivery of this new academy."
University Technical Colleges, or UTCs, are a new concept in technical education for students aged 14 to 19 and are focused on delivering first class teaching which also supports the needs of regional employers.
UTC Swindon will offer a vibrant and innovative hub for the region, building strong links between education, skills development and opportunities in employment and Higher Education.
During a typical 9am to 5pm day at UTC Swindon, students will combine practice and theory to integrate academic requirements with key technical and practical elements. Engineering employers who will provide project support and work experience for students will heavily influence the college ethos and curriculum.
Joint sponsors Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells and Oxford Brookes University submitted a bid in 2012 to host the college in Swindon. The bid was fully supported by Swindon Borough Council and Swindon College, both of whom were involved in the detailed planning of the proposal and its subsequent development.
Johnson Matthey and Oxford Brookes’ Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment are currently in the process of designing an engineering focused curriculum for UTC Swindon, which will be supported by business and enterprise, to meet the needs of local, regional and national employers of technically skilled employees.