University awarded grant funding to develop flood prevention courses

Posted on 30th January 2018

The University of Chester has been awarded a major grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to develop a series of higher education and professional development courses addressing skills shortages in flood management, modelling and engineering. The courses will be developed with the Government’s Industrial Strategy in mind, which recognises that upgrading water and flood defences are an urgent priority, given recent flooding incidents across the country.

Flooding image - Credit: MikeNicholson1955/ iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Flooding image - Credit: MikeNicholson1955/ iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Entitled Flood Risk, Assessment, Modelling and Engineering (FRAME), the project will be based within the University’s Department of Geography and International Development in partnership with University Centre Reaseheath, and it is anticipated that some of the modules will be delivered at University Centre Shrewsbury.

Over £110,000 of project funding from HEFCE’s Catalyst fund programme has been allocated to FRAME, with additional investment provided by the institutions involved, employers and other partners. The courses will be co-developed and co-designed in conjunction with employers, both national and local. Partners already aligned to this project include United Utilities, the National Flood Forum, the Environment Agency (West Midlands), and Shropshire Wildlife Trust. In addition the University will be working with CIWEM (the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management) to acquire accreditation and ensure the courses provide a clear pathway for students to gain professional chartership.

Welcoming the news, Dr Martin Degg, Head of the Department of Geography and International Development at the University of Chester, said: “According to the Committee on Climate Change Flooding, coastal changes are regarded as the highest climate change issue in the UK. We are very excited to be given the opportunity to develop these courses, which aim to address skills gaps in this particular area of expertise.”

Work-focused modules will be developed that can be used as stand-alone, targeted skills solutions, or be built up to a specific qualification. These include a Foundation Degree in River and Coastal Flood Engineering and Management (designed to cater for individuals who have gone straight from work into school, who need support developing their river and coastal engineering skills; and for school leavers who want to gain the skills and experience to secure employment within engineering consultancy or local government); a post-graduate (leading to Master’s) qualification in Flood Risk, Assessment, Modelling and Engineering (FRAME), which is for graduates working within a relevant industry, and to be carried out with minimal disruption to employment. CPD (Continuous Professional Development) modules around flood management, climate resilience, flood modelling and catchment modelling are also all being planned.

A non-traditional approach to teaching is part of the aim of this project. Games, virtual simulation, workplace/ laboratory learning and fieldwork will all be undertaken, to accommodate employer needs.

Dr Servel Miller, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Geography and International Development added: “One of the key aims of the HEFCE bid is to support higher education (HE) providers to work more closely with business, professional bodies, public sector employers and other key partners to deliver productivity gains and support inclusive growth in their local or regional context in priority economic sectors.

“Investment in new, or redesigned, HE provision, co-developed with employers and professional bodies, has the potential to drive forward key parts of the economy, increase productivity, and support inclusive growth in local and regional economies, which the New FRAME course will do. Cheshire and Warrington’s Strategic Economic Plan (2017) highlights the importance of supporting the Cheshire Science Corridor, of which the University of Chester is a key part. The FRAME courses will directly contribute to this strategy.”

HEFCE’s investment will help to enhance graduate outcomes and employability, and upskill the workforce - providing the key skills that industry and employers will need and contributing to UK productivity in the longer term.

HEFCE Chief Executive, Professor Madeleine Atkins, said: “We were delighted with the quality of proposals received for this funding call and particularly the impressive levels of engagement between higher education and industry.

“This investment represents important support for the government’s Industrial Strategy. The funding will provide new courses and vital skill developments in key industrial sectors across the country, from which students, the workforce and employers all stand to benefit.”

Full details about the HEFCE Catalyst funding announcement can be found at: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/news/newsarchive/2018/Name,116468,en.html