The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology , which is based at Malmesbury, will be the first education provider to be given New Degree Awarding Powers. The milestone comes just three years after the Institute was founded as an alternative to a traditional degree education.
Dyson has so far invested £31.5 million into The Dyson Institute. Applications for the September 2021 intake, the first to receive a Dyson Institute awarded degree, open today (7th October 2020).
The Dyson Institute is the first provider to be awarded the right to award its own degrees under the New Degree Awarding Powers route established by the Higher Education and Research Act 2017 – a major milestone for the HE sector.
The Dyson Institute’s Undergraduate Engineers pay zero tuition fees and earn a full salary. As well as their degree studies, they work on real-life projects alongside world experts in Dyson’s global engineering, research and technology teams. From day one they contribute to new technologies to improve lives all around the world. It is more than a job, and more than a degree, and although the aspiration is that they remain long after graduation, they are not tied to Dyson.
James Dyson, Founder and Chairman of Dyson, said: “Being able to award Dyson degrees is a testament to the pioneers who have joined The Dyson Institute. It was born out of my frustration at the shortage of engineers and scientists and the appalling debt that students incur at University. We’ve been flattered that the undergraduates, and their parents, have trusted us to take on this important role when they had many options open to them.
“This is not a traditional university education, it is not for the faint hearted. Technology is developing at such speed that rigorous academic study benefits from immediate application. Dyson Undergraduate Engineers work in a global team, with the best labs, working alongside the most ingenious practising engineers and scientists, solving big problems. We have a culture where they are free to experiment and learn through failure. I’m confident that we are educating the best engineers in the world and I hope they choose to stay at Dyson for many years to come.”
The Dyson Institute is a new model for education: the academic rigour of a traditional university combined with the hands on, real-world experience and pace of working in a global technology company. To date, the programme has been delivered as a highly successful partnership between Dyson Technology and WMG, the University of Warwick. The degree covers the fundamentals of engineering in years one and two and delivers more specific electronics and mechanical engineering curricula in years three and four, all supplemented by real experience working at Dyson across a multitude of projects and many differing technologies.
Each cohort at The Dyson Institute is comprised of approximately 40 Undergraduates. The fourth cohort joined The Dyson Institute at the start of September, taking the total population to 150 Undergraduates of which 33 per cent are female, compared to the average 18 per cent on UK engineering undergraduate courses.
Alongside their studies, last year Dyson undergraduates helped develop backpacks which use sensors to monitor and record air quality data. This enables Dyson’s scientists to better understand air quality around the world; from how the bushfire season in Australia affects the day-to-day air pollution in Sydney, to travelling on Delhi’s most polluted metro lines in India. The technology builds on one of the most detailed studies of localised air quality in the world, educating people about the pollution that exists in everyday life.
The Dyson Institute’s receipt of New Degree Awarding Powers means that it will now be able to deliver and award every aspect of the programme itself, using its own teaching departments, professional services teams and governance structures.
Mary Curnock Cook, Chair of Council at The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology, said: “The Dyson Institute is forging a very exciting new path in higher education. There is simply no other degree like this. The combination of hard-core academic study, combined with real work application in one of the most exciting technology companies in the world, makes it a compelling choice for academically minded polymaths with an entrepreneurial flair.”
From Electromagnetic Compatibility Chambers, to Microbiology labs, Scanning Electron Microscopes, MRI scanners, motion detection chambers and scores of rapid prototyping machines, The Dyson Institute sits at the heart of 136 labs and research spaces on Dyson’s Campus in Wiltshire. It is a centre for thousands of engineers and scientists as well as having more than 4,000 m2 of dedicated education spaces, equipped with the latest technology.
First Year Undergraduate Engineers live in the Dyson Village. Designed by James Dyson and Chris Wilkinson, each cross-laminated timber pod has views across the Wiltshire landscape and is equipped with shower room, study space and the latest Dyson technology. The Village also includes a café, bar, gym, cinema, kitchens, communal spaces, laundry rooms and generous outside space.
Halimah Ershad, 4th year undergraduate at The Dyson Institute, said: “I almost fell into the trap of going to a traditional university just because every single person from my sixth form applied. On this degree we will learn a mathematical equation in the morning in class and apply it in real life in the afternoon. This type of learning makes abstract concepts instantly real and useful. Dyson engineers have been so supportive and welcoming. They mentor you in your studies, but also challenge you at work. They are very receptive to ideas and I have been contributing to projects since the day I started.”
Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan MP said: “New, innovative higher education providers like the Dyson Institute will ensure we can deliver the skills and talent this country needs, so I am delighted that it will now be able to award degrees to the next generation of much-needed engineers.
Giving students a more diverse choice of education is a valuable part of our levelling up agenda and follows the Prime Minister’s promise to invest in the skills both businesses and the British economy need.”