University of Gloucestershire’s computing and digital technologies programmes have today received a multi-million pound boost that will support a strong supply of skilled graduates, following a successful Office for Students (OfS) capital funding bid.

The £5.8 million award, announced by the OfS, will enable the University to make a major investment in the further expansion of its successful computing, engineering and digital technologies portfolio, and help to tackle the UK’s skills gaps.

The OfS funding will be used to build a specialist three-storey facility at the University’s Park Campus in Cheltenham, extending the existing accommodation for the School of Computing and Engineering and provide a high-quality teaching and learning space for students in Cyber and Technical Computing, Advanced Emerging Technologies, Game Technologies, and Engineering Technologies.

Students benefiting from the state-of-the-art building will include those studying traditional degrees (BSc/MSc), higher apprenticeships, professional short courses, Digital Skills Bootcamps, and new Higher Technical Qualifications.

Vice-Chancellor Stephen Marston said: “The University is delighted that this funding will allow us to take the next major step in the University’s strategic goal to be a centre of excellence for computing and digital technologies, supporting this key economic priority for Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and the region.

The University has made huge progress in recent years in expanding the range and quality of both our teaching and research in cyber, computing and digital.

We selected that as a strategic investment priority because it is so important to have a strong local supply of skilled and qualified graduates to support the ambition to make Gloucestershire a world-class hub for cyber and computing.

The University has been awarded one of the highest funding allocations in the OfS capital programme, to support a step-change in the quality of our specialist facilities and therefore the quality of programmes we can offer for students.”

Professor Kamal Bechkoum, Head of the University’s School of Computing and Engineering, said: “The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) skills gap is well documented, both by the Government and the private sector, amid ongoing concerns about the supply of STEM skills in the workforce, particularly with the growth of new technology such as artificial intelligence and cyber security.

The new facilities will provide students with a learning space that resembles as closely as possible the environments they will experience in real-life scenarios while working in industry.

The new labs will provide innovation testbeds for the application of advanced and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data analytics, blockchain, and cyber physical systems.

These testbeds will be used as learning spaces for the development, and the delivery, of multi-disciplinary subjects such as HealthTech, EduTech, LegalTech and Bio-Informatics.”

The OfS funding award will cover the costs of the building work and key specialist equipment that will be housed inside. The project involves the demolition of an existing single storey building at The Park Campus that is no longer fit for purpose.

The project is expected to start in Summer 2023, with students gaining access to the new facility in Spring 2025.  The University has appointed ASL as architects for the project, and will now be developing planning applications.

The University will publish more details about the project in the Spring, which will include an opportunity for local residents to see the plans.

The development of the University’s computing and digital portfolio over recent years includes:

  • Major growth in student enrolments.  This academic year the School of Computing and Engineering has enrolled 800 students, including 571 on undergraduate programmes, 186 on Masters programmes and 43 on research programmes
  • Introduction of degree apprenticeships in partnership with employers, including Digital and Technology Solutions Professional (DTSP) and Cyber Security Technical and Professional (CSTP), and the Manufacturing Engineer.  These programmes were included in the Ofsted inspection of the University’s apprenticeships portfolio in Spring 2022 which led to a rating of “Good” on all aspects
  • Won accreditation from the National Cyber Security Centre for the Masters programme in Cyber Security and from TIGA (representing the Games Industry) for our Games Development courses.
  • Awarded the Tech Industry Gold Certification for both the DTSP and CSTP Degree Apprenticeships.
  • Finalist in the National Cyber Award for the Cyber University of the Year.
  • As a founding member of the Institute of Coding, delivered national and regional Digital Skills Bootcamps to more than 150 learners.
  • Launched the ground-breaking Institute of Cybersecurity and Digital Innovation (ICDI) in Germany, developed in collaboration with longstanding partner Fachhochschule des Mittelstands (FHM, University of Applied Sciences).
  • Achieved internationally excellent ratings for its research in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.
  • Led the Research & Innovation (academic) Stakeholders Committee of the Golden Valley development in Cheltenham (home to Cyber Central, UK).
  • Established a Cyber Education Advisory Board with members drawn from Raytheon, BAe Systems, The Golden Valley Development, CyNam, GFirst LEP, The Cyber Scheme, NCC Group and others, to engage business in the design and delivery of programmes.

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