Financial support available for West Midlands engineering students

  • National College for High Speed Rail looks to tackle lack of diversity in the industry
  • Underrepresented and disadvantaged students in the West Midlands offered support to help cover study costs
  • Funding currently available equates to fifteen, full fee bursaries   

Students from less advantaged and currently underrepresented groups in rail and engineering are being encouraged to consider a future career in the sector, with financial support available to study at the new National College for High Speed Rail. 

The National College for High Speed Rail, which celebrates its official opening in Birmingham on Monday, 16 October, is the largest of five national colleges that has been created by the Government to ensure British workers learn world class skills.  With a skills shortage of around 69,000 engineers a year in the UK, and one in five rail engineers currently aged over 55, the college is looking to attract a wide pool of talent to improve diversity in the industry. 

From its new campus on Lister Street in Birmingham, the college is offering the chance to study for a Certificate of Higher Education in High Speed Rail and Infrastructure (Cert HE). This is a Level 4 qualification providing an introduction to the high speed rail sector and intended to set participants up for studying a Higher Technical Diploma or Foundation Degree. 

For individuals whose finances may be a barrier to learning, either in terms of tuition fees, or maintenance costs whilst studying, support is available in the form of a newly-announced bursary scheme. The college’s fees, which are £9,250 for the Cert HE course, may also be eligible for student loans, subject to application.   

There are some striking inequalities in the rail industry, particularly the representation of females, those from minority ethnic backgrounds and people living with disabilities.  The College’s bursary scheme is in place to encourage applicants from these groups in particular, and has been set up with support from the following organisations:

  • The Department for Transport (DfT) will be contributing funding to support learners from less-advantaged backgrounds.
  • The High Speed Rail Industry Leaders (HSRIL) group would like to fund two learners in a similar way.
  • Birmingham City Council (BCC) with Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council (DMBC) have expressed interest to contribute funding for applicants within their geographic boundaries.
  • The College is also working with other organisations to identify further opportunities.

The college is welcoming its first intake of around 150 students to its Birmingham and Doncaster campuses over the course of the 2017-18 academic year and there are still some limited places available for courses beginning in October, as well as for a further intake in January 2018. 

Clair Mowbray, chief executive of the National College for High Speed Rail, said:

“With more than £500bn of national infrastructure projects in Britain’s planning pipeline – including HS2 – this is a perfect time to begin learning the skills that our industry partners will require in the coming years and decades.  We’re excited to welcome our first intake of learners and keen that those who join us over the course of the year, no matter what their background, are equipped with the support they need to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” 

Cllr Brett O’Reilly, cabinet member for jobs and skills at Birmingham City Council, added:

“I have always said that HS2 is not only about a quick link to London, but about creating jobs and training opportunities here in Birmingham and the wider West Midlands region.

“The National College for High Speed Rail is a great opportunity for anyone looking for a career path into a rewarding and well-paid job in an expanding sector. We will do what we can to help local people get the jobs created in the rail sector and beyond.”

Learners at the college will benefit from purpose-built, state-of-the art facilities, including virtual reality training aboard a refurbished Eurostar power car.  The college’s curriculum has been developed in partnership with leading industry employers so that learners can gain the necessary skills for working on major developments, including Europe’s largest and most exciting infrastructure project, HS2. 

To be eligible for funding support, applicants must:

  • Have a household income of less than £26,000 for families
  • Have a total income of less than £16,500 if living alone
  • Have ‘home’ student status or have been granted full ‘refugee’ or ‘asylum seeker’ status
  • Have been ‘ordinary resident’ in the UK, EU or EEA continuously for the last three years with ‘settled status’ which means having indefinite leave to remain
  • Maintain at least 90% attendance

The National College for High Speed Rail is also offering a small number of sponsorships for female applicants who have performed exceptionally well in their level 2 and 3 qualifications, or who have performed to a high standard in the workplace.

To find out more about the bursary scheme and how to apply, please go to: 

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