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Announcement, News

Proposal for city centre innovation centre on Bath College campus gets £300k boost

I-START is a collaboration between Bath College, the University of Bath, Bath Spa University, Bath & North East Somerset Council and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA)

 

I-START is designed to help local people to gain new skills and re-train for roles in the creative and digital sectors. It also aims to provide a more flexible approach to learning which will fit around people’s busy lives, making it more accessible to those without traditional qualifications. This would help more people from diverse social and educational backgrounds gain new skills, leading to high quality jobs in the creative and digital sectors.
 
The plan is to create an innovation centre – believed to be the first of its kind in the UK – on Bath College’s City Centre campus. As well as training, the innovation centre will also work with businesses, helping them develop new ideas.
 
The West of England Combined Authority approved the outline business case and agreed to invest £300,000 to develop and design the project further. This will including a review of the plans in light of Covid-19.
 
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “I am keen to ensure that all our residents, whatever their background or challenges, can realise their potential by gaining the digital skills our region needs in future.
 
“This focus on future digital skills is now more important than ever as we look at our region’s economic renewal, coming out of Covid-19. By offering people more training opportunities that will help them to develop the right skills that our region’s businesses need, we can give them the best possible chances to re-train and up-skill in their chosen careers.”
 
The I-START project involves a ground-breaking collaboration between the college, the University of Bath, Bath Spa University, Bath & North East Somerset Council and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).
 
Councillor Tim Ball, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s cabinet member for Housing, Planning and Economic Development, said: “Now we are in the recovery phase of COVID-19, giving people the right skills to meet the demands of the future will be key to the economic recovery of Bath and North East Somerset as a whole. I’m pleased that the I-START project will take an inclusive approach to opening up further and higher education to more people in our region.”
 
I-START’s learning space would be co-located with innovative start-up businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises (via the SETsquared University of Bath Innovation Centre), the Institute of Coding and research & knowledge exchange – spanning the digital and creative economy, robotics, social science and the arts – leading to collaboration between partners, students and businesses.
 
The proposed training centre would be based next to Bath Quays, with its excellent links across the region; giving students access to growing businesses looking to expand their workforces. By 2027, it is expected that 55% of UK jobs will require higher level qualifications.
 
Professor Ian White, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bath, said: “We are delighted that the I-START Outline Business Case has been approved, and look forward to working with WECA and our project partners to continue to develop our plans. I’d like to thank all those involved for their hard work in getting the project to this stage.
 
“What we’re jointly proposing is a genuinely exciting prospect for our city, expanding the University’s world-leading SETsquared Bath Innovation Centre, improving access to our research and expertise in areas of value to the City, creating Bath’s first digital labs to accommodate new and growing businesses, and building on our experience as educational providers to enhance the future prospects of the City as a location for inward investment.
 
“Not only is this a project exactly what the city will need as we look to bounce back from the economic impacts of Covid19, but it will benefit our city for years to come.”
 
Principal and Chief Executive of Bath College, Laurel Penrose, said: “We are delighted to be part of such a great partnership. At Bath College we are always striving to identify and address the needs of local people and employers.
 
We look forward to the development of the innovation centre at our City Centre Campus and welcoming a whole new cohort of students.”
 
Professor Andy Salmon, Pro Vice Chancellor External, Bath Spa University on behalf of Vice Chancellor Sue Rigby, said: “It is fitting that this exciting inclusive growth project is the first time that the four essential Bath partners have combined their national and international leading strengths in skills, innovation, and business start up. The revolutionary part of this programme is its ability to make ambitious and necessary connections across disciplines and business opportunities at the very moment when our skills and core purposes are undergoing radical shift. This project gives us the opportunity for the city and region to move forward rapidly harnessing the formidable capacity of one great College and two excellently complimentary Universities.”
 
I-START will help meet the objectives set out in the West of England Local Industrial Strategy and Employment and Skills Plan.
 

News, Student Spotlight, Students Union

Innovative students put on virtual festival

 

Bath College have recently elected their Students’ Union for academic year 2020/21.
 
The panel of students, led by returning Students’ Union President, Dan Ball, thought that the lockdown was no reason not to ensure that everyone got to celebrate the end of term.
 
The new Students’ Union members are Amy Curtis, Higher Education Officer, Emily Styles, Equality & Diversity Officer and Gemma Valentine and Eloise Lane, Events & Activities Officers. They hope to add more officers to their team with new students in September.
 
LINEUP College Sound WaveCollege Soundwave Festival showcased music from Bath College bands, alumni and local acts as well as performing arts, wellbeing tips and relaxation techniques such as street food and massage tutorials.
 
Students shared their favourite College memories and entered festival themed competitions, including sharing images of what ‘festival’ meant to them.
 
Also invited to the virtual event were all students starting in September, who got the opportunity to ‘hang out’ online with the new Students’ Union and ask questions about student life at Bath College.
 
The online event was attended by 150 students and was a very reassuring afternoon after what has been an uncertain time for young people.
 
Your students' union 2020 - May 2020Dan Ball, Students’ Union President commented: “I’m really pleased to have been voted in as SU President for a second year. It’s great to have a new team of officers and together we put on an event that was really beneficial to the students, who have been very anxious studying from home.
 
“I really enjoyed meeting all the new students who are starting in September and hope we gave them a taste of College life.”
 
The event was such a success the new SU plan to re-run the event on GCSE results day to bring celebration to a cohort of students who have had their exams so disrupted.
 

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