University Centre Peterborough has been awarded £300,000 funding from the Office for Students for an innovative project aimed at developing relationships with key businesses in Peterborough and the widening catchment area to increase opportunities for graduates who seek work close to home.
The higher education institution in Peterborough, which was established in 2009, was selected as one of only 16 successful applicants awarded funding from the OfS as part of a multimillion-pound scheme to improve graduate employment prospects.
The three year project focuses on providing an enhanced employer related experience for students during their time at University Centre Peterborough, while crucially supporting their transition into local employment during, or on completion of, their studies.
Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students said: “There is an outdated assumption that the typical student experience involves moving far away from home to study and work. This is not true for a large number of students and graduates, and we know that, whether by choice or circumstance, many stay in their home towns.
“Graduates should not have to move to London to get good jobs. It is essential that those who stay in their home towns and cities can enter high-skilled work and are not locked out of the graduate labour market.
“This funding will help universities and colleges find ways to remove barriers to local graduate employment, broaden the choice for those local graduates and help ensure that students are getting the right skills to enter rewarding work. It’s good news for graduates, universities and local employers in search of highly-skilled, work-ready graduates.”
The funding will support the establishment of an Employability Hub for students to enhance their professional and transferrable skills. It will provide dedicated staff to ensure that effective communication between students and employers is maintained, and the introduction of a new employer steering group will ensure that the project is impactful for both parties.
Funding was formally confirmed to University Centre Peterborough in July after it was successful in its application to be registered as an approved provider of Higher Education by the OfS.
University Centre Peterborough registration not only means that the institution is formally recognised as an independent provider of degree level courses in the UK, but also that it is eligible to receive funding and apply for Degree Awarding Powers in its own right.
The funding opportunity, run by the OfS, challenged institutions to develop and implement projects to identify ways of supporting the transition to highly skilled employment and improving outcomes for graduates who seek employment in their home region.
Within the degree provision at University Centre Peterborough, there will be focus upon engineering, biological sciences, computing, accounting, business management and digital marketing with the business community being encouraged to engage earlier and identify opportunities for industry placement to meet the Greater Peterborough skills gaps.
Tom Hennessy, chief executive of Opportunity Peterborough, said: “This a great win for the city’s businesses and students alike. This programme will help to provide students with real world work experience that will augment their studies, making them more employable on leaving university whilst also providing SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) with much sought after skills in a competitive labour market and real opportunities to influence future curriculum development.
“It’s a win-win for those involved and is another piece in the puzzle of driving our economy forward.”
Sir Les Ebdon, chair of the UCP HE Council, said “University Centre Peterborough was established to provide students with opportunities to study a degree in Peterborough and to meet the needs of local employers.
“These announcements by the Office for Students represent a huge advance towards these goals. UCP is now recognised as an independent degree level provider and this £300,000 grant will help students into local jobs.
“I’m thrilled that this funding was won competitively and with the backing of key local employers.”
Liz Knight, academic director at University Centre Peterborough, added “Our priority is to ensure our students are career ready and gain skilled employment here in Peterborough and also our widening catchment area. This funding will both support our graduates to work collaboratively with employers and provide our graduates with the right skills required by employers in the region.”
Employers interested in becoming involved in the project should email firstname.lastname@example.org.