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Partnership secures £4 million to develop training for rural businesses

Posted 9 July 2008

A Harper Adams University College-led collaborative project with the Royal Agricultural College, to develop and expand training opportunities for rural business, has been awarded funding by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) under its Employer Engagement programme.
   The Rural Employer Engagement Development Network (ReedNet) project will see Shropshire’s Harper Adams University College and the Royal Agricultural College (RAC) at Cirencester, along with the Landex group of specialist land-based colleges, develop and deliver employer-led credit-rated courses for businesses and professions in the rural economy across England.
   Hefce strategic development funding of £4 million over three years will provide for additional staff, IT and infrastructural support needed to develop and deliver courses to meet the needs of employers in developing the higher level skills of their staff and managers and to provide the opportunity, through the accumulation of credits awarded by participating colleges, for their employees to gain Higher Education qualifications.
   Harper Adams Dean of External Liaison Professor Brian Revell said: “Harper Adams University College and the Royal Agricultural College have a long and well established track record in “Third Stream” university-business training and continuing professional development in the agricultural, food and rural business sectors.
   “The two colleges will collaborate in this exciting project to develop new opportunities for credit-rated courses for rural businesses and professions. The Hefce funding will enable us to employ business development managers who will work with employers to identify and deliver their training needs, credit rate training through private providers, and supply online support for new work-based learners.
   “And half a million pounds from this award is being set aside to enable us to support and work with Landex colleges across the country in developing, accrediting and delivering training to employers in their regions, so the employers can access training at a location convenient to them. It must be flexible and delivered according to demand.”
   The project aims to create an additional 100 full-time equivalent student places in the first year, the 2008/9 academic year, rising to 450 full-time equivalent student places in the final year, 2010/11.
   Professor Chris Gaskell, Principal of the Royal Agricultural College said: “We are delighted to be involved in this ground-breaking collaborative project with Harper Adams University College. This will enable us to build and maintain our strong links with industry and provide us with a dedicated team of people to assist our training and professional development programmes.”
   Professor David Eastwood, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said: “We are committed to supporting universities in their increasingly successful endeavours to strengthen their links with employers. We will provide at least £105 million over the next three years to expand provision at a number of universities, leading to higher skills in the workforce.
   “We believe this funding will enable the universities to build on their achievements to the considerable benefit of employers and their staff as well as the wider economy and services.”

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