This was the highest amount, awarded to 27 of the 73 universities and colleges, who will receive the teaching capital project funding starting 2015-16. The Government confirmed the results in their latest Science and Innovation Strategy and LJMU was the only Merseyside university to be funded under this scheme.
The scheme is intended to ensure that higher education responds effectively to the increase in demand for STEM studies by developing facilities that will support an increased flow of highly employable graduates into industry. The successful projects will support growth across a wide range of science, engineering and technology subjects. They include new provision in Chemistry and Physics, which declined during the last decade. Many support new collaborations with industry and sharing of space between subjects to support innovative teaching and improve efficiency.
At LJMU, STEM teaching accommodation will be upgraded and will include a new maritime teaching facility, comprising a 360° full-mission bridge simulator and five 270° bridges; an engine room simulator; and a PC-based simulation laboratory for maritime programmes. As one of only six UK universities with a dedicated maritime focus, this investment will create a world-class platform for maritime education, knowledge transfer and industry engagement to support regional strategic initiatives around the Port of Liverpool expansion and the Atlantic Gateway developments and the national Industrial Strategy focus on the offshore wind, oil and gas, and nuclear sectors. In response to identified skills shortages associated with regional SuperPort-related projects, LJMU is working with the Mersey Maritime employer group and local FE colleges to develop a skills progression pipeline.
Chemistry, cellular and molecular life sciences will also be expanded, in response to demand for graduate-level skills for the rapidly-expanding life sciences sector, regionally and nationally, and the installation of AVIT systems will allow simultaneous working by multiple teaching classes.
The projects were recommended by an external panel, which was chaired by Professor Lesley Yellowlees (Provost of Science and Engineering at the University of Edinburgh and until recently President of the Royal Society of Chemistry), and included former vice-chancellors, industry representatives, and estates and equalities experts.
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education), Professor Peter Byers commented:
"This HEFCE funding will allow us to further continue the University’s investment into excellent and innovative teaching and learning environments. It will also provide the opportunity to fill current STEM skills gaps in the region, which is of particular importance for SuperPort-related projects, and will impact on job and wealth creation overall."
Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of HEFCE said:
"This funding is badly needed by universities and colleges to meet the increased interest in science and engineering. It will also ensure that students benefit from state-of-the-art equipment and laboratories, and are thereby equipped for the workplace of the 21st century.
"I am particularly pleased to see successful projects across all parts of the country, and the degree to which institutions are focusing their investment to support their local economies and key industry partners."