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Council agrees cash and land for new college
PLANS for Oxfordshire’s first University Technical College are a step closer to reality after funding and land was secured from the county council.
The council’s cabinet has agreed to hand over land at Great Western Park, in Didcot, and £2m in funding for the college, which will eventually cater for 600 pupils.
The UTC, a type of academy, will offer students aged between 14 and 19 a more vocational education, focusing on sciences and engineering.
It is due to open in September 2015 and its main sponsor is Oxford and Cherwell Valley College (OCVC), along with Reading University and Royal Holloway College in London.
OCVC chief executive Sally Dicketts said: “The development of the college will provide an exciting option for young people who are passionate about following a career in science and engineering.
“By working closely with industry partners, the curriculum at the UTC will be tailored to meet their needs and therefore give pupils the very best chances of employment when they complete their studies.
“By working with employers we know that they often have to look outside the county, and sometimes the country, to recruit to high-level jobs.
“The development of the UTC responds to this situation and will help to reduce skills gaps and boost employment for the benefit of the county’s economic development. We look forward to hearing more from local people during consultation.”
The new school is expected to cater for up to 300 students from the Didcot area, which is expected to grow by 9,000 homes in the next 25 years.
It will occupy the same site as a new secondary school for 11 to 18-year-olds and share some facilities. If it is approved by planners and opens in September 2015, the UTC will initially offer 140 places for year 10 and year 12 students.
Supporters of the scheme say it will tackle a skills shortage in the county.
Culham Centre for Fusion Energy operations director David Martin said: “CCFE needs to deliver new technology and challenging projects to meet the demands of fusion research.
“The UTC will help us to solve the skills shortage by providing young apprentices, technicians and engineers to keep CCFE at the forefront of fusion technology and engineering excellence.”
A public consultation on the project began on Monday and will run until November 29. Meetings will be held at the Cutteslowe Pavilion next Wednesday from 6.30pm to 7.30pm and at Didcot Civic Hall on Thursday, November 14 from 3pm to 7pm.
It is etimated the UTC will cost between £8m and £10m to build.
The rest of the funding will come from the Government. It will offer a range of qualifications, chiefly technical, but is expected to offer some GCSE and A-levels too.
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