A MULTI-MILLION pound scheme to build an Institute of Technology at Swindon College has been given the go-ahead.

The government approved the college’s bid for £21 million of funding to convert its tower block and technology buildings into a state-of-the art institute which aims to help tackle a skills shortage in science, technology, engineering and maths.

The college is leading a consortium to oversee development of the facility which is expected to offer high-level technical qualifications in advanced manufacturing and engineering, life sciences, digital sciences and creative media.

Coun Oliver Donachie, cabinet member for economic prosperity said: “I am absolutely delighted. This could be one of the most transformative projects in Swindon for two decades, and I don’t say that lightly.

“This is a contract between business here and the education system, and it’s new and fresh. We haven’t had it before. It could also attract more businesses to Swindon as they know there will be a supply of skilled young people, and they can work with the Institute of Technology to make sure there is a workforce with the skills they need.

“Companies need an education establishment that understands STEM and they need that sooner, not later. This is also an endorsement from government that Swindon will make the most of this opportunity. This will be transformative and soon put us ahead of our competitors.”

It will be one of 12 Institutes of Technology set up across the UK and is backed by Oxford Brookes University and Cirencester College as well as some of Swindon’s biggest employers, including Nationwide, BMW Group, Excalibur Communications and Recycling Technologies.

UPDATE: Swindon College Institute of Technology could be training students by 2021

South Swindon MP Robert Buckland said: "Justin Tomlinson and I lobbied hard to secure this historic initiative which will deliver higher education opportunities in Swindon as never before."

Swindon Labour leader Jim Grant said: “It is great news that Swindon College and New College has won this bid. Without a university in the town Swindon needs more higher level qualifications and that is what this new educational establishment will offer. Hopefully this will be the springboard for further higher level qualifications being made available in Swindon.”

Soon, the detail of each institute’s licence agreements and capital funding will be agreed, then they will receive their licence to operate and start to access their capital funding so that they can start development. The first institutes are expected to open from September.

I’m delighted that the government is investing in a new Institute of Technology in Swindon. The institute was selected out of over a 100 interested applicants which is a testament to the hard work of Swindon College and the consortia involved in the bid."

Business secretary Greg Clark said: “I’m delighted that the Government is investing in a new Institute of Technology in Swindon.  The Institute will be one of just 12 across the country and was selected out of over a 100 interested applicants - testament to the hard work of Swindon College and the consortia involved in the bid. 

“The Institute will build on Swindon’s heritage and excellence in advanced manufacturing and engineering. The Institute will train the next generation in the technical and project management skills needed for the industries of the future.  Ensuring employers, and potential inward investors, have the access to the high skilled workforce they need.

“This is our modern Industrial Strategy in action, promoting and nurturing the technical skills and abundance of talent that the region has to offer.”