29th September 2016

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has awarded a £1million grant toward the new Hi Tech and Digital Centre to be built at South Devon College’s Paignton campus. The new purpose-built facilitywill be both innovative in its design and use as well as nationally significant and is planned to open to students in September 2019.

This award is one of the largest grants from the HEFCE Catalyst Fund to a Further Education College to date and recognises the importance of the new Centre which will offer even more opportunities for local students to develop higher skills and gain university level qualifications in Torbay and South Devon. The Catalyst Fund supports and enhances new activities that address key priorities, particularly where innovation will make a significant difference to university level education and deliver related benefits locally and nationally.

Yvonne Hawkins, HEFCE Director for Universities and Colleges said, ‘We are delighted to support this proposal which will deliver new provision, higher level skills, and successful employability outcomes for both students and employers in the South West and nationally. HEFCE’s investment will support key higher education benefits and help to lever in additional funding for the project from other partners. We look forward to working with the College as the new development unfolds and particularly as the impacts for students, higher education, and technical skills are delivered.’

Laurence Frewin, Vice Principal and Deputy Chief Executive at the College said “This exciting project, costing £17million, will allow the College to develop a new and flexible educational offer that is both distinctive and appealing to a wider range of both technically and creatively orientated young people. In turn, this will help to fill the skills gap of local employers, including in the Digital and Hi-Tech sectors, who provide sustainable jobs for local students. Our students will have even more opportunities to study at higher levels to gain a Foundation or Honours Degree or learn while they earn with a new Higher or Degree Apprenticeship. At South Devon College, we are continuously developing and improving new and existing courses and pathways to jobs at all levels and this will provide us with even more possibilities for the future, especially as the College also hopes to secure its own Foundation Degree Awarding powers.”


The Hi-Tech and Digital Centre will also inspire the local community by showcasing the latest in world class technology and equipment. The interior layout is currently being developed and will follow cutting edge principles in future proofing an outstanding teaching and learning environment. Great emphasis is being placed on flexibility of space, the importance and need for social and collaborative study areas and layouts of rooms which will mirror workplace processes and practice.

Dr Karen Stockham Chair of Governors at South Devon College said, “This wonderful new facility will transform the future skills and opportunities in South Devon and have a huge impact for future generations of businesses and learners.”

The overall building layout will effectively follow the concept, design and development stages of manufacturing processes and will be laid out in such a way that it will mirror a real business environment, with zones for manufacturing and production. Individuals will have access to workshops and studios to practice 3D printing, develop Augmented and Virtual Reality environments and explore techniques for rapid prototyping of new products. There will be zones for creative and technical design including Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) facilities; alongside design suites and zones for more traditional activities such as classrooms and lecture theatres.

Steve Caunter, Assistant Principal at South Devon College said, “The Hi-Tech and Digital Centre is an exciting opportunity which will have a huge, positive impact for how students learn and gain vital technical and professional skills, paving the way for the next generation of engineers, scientists, technologists and creatives.”


This project has been developed in consultation with over 40 local businesses of all sizes, building on South Devon College’s detailed understanding of the local labour markets. The Centre will provide individuals with the skills that employers need to support their growth in a range of important local Hi-Tech businesses such as; electronics, lasers, fibre, satellite and communications, aerospace, marine, medical and data analysis ‘Big Data’. The offer will also extend to creative industries including gaming, app design, digital design, film and digital media, smart clothing and textiles and many others.

Caroline Lee EMEA HR Director at Spirent Communications said, “Hi-Tech organisations locally continually need talented employees who have developed skills in STEM subjects, this new facility will contribute to and boost the local talent pool and also encourage young people to look at the opportunities available within the Hi-Tech arena in the region.”

For more information on the Hi-Tech and Digital Centre please visit our website www.southdevon.ac.uk Alternatively, come along to our next Open Evening on the 16th November 5pm-8pm at our Paignton Campus, Long Road, Paignton, TQ4 7EJ.


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