UTC student numbers rise to 16,000 nationwide

More students than ever before are choosing a technical education at UTCs.

Early indications show a strong increase in the number of students across the UTC programme this September. Figures reported to Baker Dearing by the 48 UTCs show a 12% increase in total students, compared with last year, to just under 16,000.

Three UTCs which added a KS3 feeder this year, in Plymouth, Bolton and Wolverhampton, recruited very well and across the programme UTCs saw particularly strong growth into their sixth forms.

Doncaster UTC, which opened this September, had the strongest start of any UTC since the programme’s inception, recruiting some 290 students in their first year.

Simon Connell, CEO of Baker Dearing, said:

“This is an excellent achievement and is testament to the hard work of UTC staff during lockdown to deliver a high quality virtual education for all UTC students. At the same time, innovative UTC awareness campaigns such as online open days, and good local publicity – particularly with initiatives to support the NHS – have helped to raise the profile of this increasingly relevant form of education.

“It is great that an increasing number of UTCs are full, including The JCB Academy, Aston University Engineering Academy, London Design and Engineering UTC, and Ron Dearing UTC. Our newest UTC in Doncaster, which opened this September has launched with just under 300 students, a record for the UTC programme.”

UTCs with health care specialisms saw particularly strong growth, with increases, on average, close to 20%. With the NHS and other health providers playing an invaluable role in managing us through the current crisis, it is no surprise that young people are realising the importance of technical skills and turning to UTCs as an appealing option.

Bethany Tyas, a new recruit into Year 10 at UTC Portsmouth, explained why she chose to move to the UTC:

“I saw UTC Portsmouth as an incredible opportunity for me to get a better education, but also to learn more about STEM. Not only does the college provide such a unique variation of education, but it also helps to develop each and every student into their own individual. The range of enrichment and training throughout the year helps to encourage teamwork and skill-building, and the Independent Study lessons really improve time-management and self-discipline.”

Lord Baker, Chairman Baker Dearing Educational Trust said;

“I truly believe that after ten years in the making, the UTC programme has reached an inflection point, and looking forward we will see further strong growth in student numbers. It is clear that, as the impact of lockdown is felt across the wider economy, and students digest the summer examinations debacle, more young people are looking for an education which prioritises the skills and aptitudes they will need in their future careers rather than simply ‘teaching to the test’.”