British entrepreneur Sir James Dyson’s Institute of Engineering and Technology has been given the power to award its own degrees from next year, The Guardian has reported. 

The institute in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, currently caters to 150 engineering undergraduates who pay no tuition fees and receive a full-time wage during their four-year degree course, which they earn by studying and working alongside Dyson staff.

The degrees are currently validated by the University of Warwick, but under legislation passed in 2017, the higher education regulator in England, the Office for Students, has given permission for the institute to award degrees in its own name.

Dyson said: “To be the first higher education institution to be granted new degree-awarding powers is a testament to the hard work of undergraduates and the academic team. It has not been easy.

“Britain is falling short by 60,000 engineers a year according to current estimates and is failing to encourage more female engineers, meaning that they represent just 18% of those studying engineering.

“At the same time, students are burdened with appalling debts while at university. The average undergraduate today leaves with over £50,000 worth of loans, which takes years to pay off – if ever paid off at all.”

Dyson added: “There is no doubt that the academic classes in Britain still look down their noses at those with a practical bent, but there is also a wider image problem – engineering is seen as boring and difficult. This stigma, and the assumption you need to spend your days deep in complex physics, maths and chemistry, is part of the reason that the shortage of engineers in the UK is so acute.”

Dyson is believed to have spent more than £30 million on the institute and its campus, which is located next to the company’s design centre and includes study-bedroom pods, lecture theatres and laboratories. 

Date published: 8 October 2020

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