The University of Hertfordshire has been awarded £5.8 million by the Office for Students (OfS) towards the construction of its new School of Physics, Engineering and Computer Science (SPECS) building.

The grant will contribute to capital costs for the new facility, which will be the largest single building at the University’s College Lane campus in Hatfield.

The multi-purpose teaching, research and enterprise facility, which is already under construction, will provide new and innovative ways of delivering education to students.

The building will be used by up to 7,500 students and help to create the next generation of engineers, physicists and computer scientists.

Facilities will include a robotics lab, cyber security centre, wind tunnels, electric vehicle hub, instrumentation and bio-detection centre, advanced materials flight and cutting-edge Experiential Learning Zones and dedicated research centres.

Professor Quintin McKellar CBE, vice chancellor, said: “There is currently a UK skills gap and a lack of diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sector, both of which hold back progress. Our new home for the School of Physics, Engineering and Computer Science will transform the student experience – demonstrating the exciting and fulfilling possibilities within modern careers and driving more young people from all backgrounds to want to study in these fields.

“The building will provide a single home for students and researchers specialising in these key subjects for the first time, and through new equipment, workspaces and innovative ways of teaching will boost students’ learning and experience. Ultimately this facility will support the creation of a future workforce with advanced technical skills and expertise to generate crucial economic growth locally, nationally and beyond. It will also enable us to drive forward our brilliant internationally recognised research to higher levels.

“We are delighted that the OfS has recognised the need for this new building and is providing this support. This funding will directly help our students, providing them with options and opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach, and setting them on a path to become the great innovators of the future. It is also fantastic news for Hertfordshire to see this level of investment in our future workforce.”

Susan Lapworth, Chief Executive of the OfS, said: “Investing in modern buildings and innovative equipment will help universities and colleges in England prepare students for their future careers. Modern laboratories and state-of-the-art technology mean students learn with the best facilities. Our investment will also increase the provision of short courses that offer flexibility to boost the skills of the workforce.

“Competition for funding was strong, with high-quality applications from across the sector. The OfS-funded capital projects will ensure current and future students have a positive experience while studying expensive-to-deliver subjects that are strategically important to society. Taxpayers will feel these benefits too, as our investment will boost local and regional economies and support environmental sustainability.”

The building is scheduled to be completed in Spring 2024.

Image source: University of Hertfordshire

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