Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Government and industry team up to fund 500 Masters degrees in aerospace engineering

A new £6 million bursary fund opening today will pay for 500 new graduates and employees to study Masters (MSc) level degrees in aerospace engineering. This will help the sector develop the high-level skills it needs to compete globally.

As part of the Aerospace Growth Partnership, the UK aerospace industry and government have committed £3 million each over three years to help recruit talented people who want to build careers in aerospace, but need financial backing to study at Masters level. A bursary will be available for students to cover the cost of tuition fees up to a maximum of £9,500.

The scheme will support the up-skilling of current aerospace employees already qualified to graduate level, and BSc students currently studying at university. Those students will be encouraged to make direct links with aerospace businesses to undertake projects to address the challenges faced by industry, and secure opportunities for work experience and future employment.

UK companies sponsoring the scheme are BAE Systems, Bombardier Aerospace Belfast, EADS/Airbus, Finmeccanica, GKN, MBDA Missile Systems, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty, Rolls-Royce and Spirit AeroSystems.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

There is a serious shortage of engineers in the UK. Our aerospace industry is a world-leader, but unless we create a new generation of engineers we’ll struggle to keep ahead of the competition.

Today’s announcement will help us meet this demand. The funding will further train quality engineering graduates, widening access to the industry to talented people from all backgrounds.

Paul Everitt, chief executive of aerospace, defence, security and space trade organisation, ADS Group commented:

Investment in developing world class skills is critical for the future of the UK aerospace industry. This joint commitment of funding from government and industry to create this initiative is an important step – both in securing valuable high-level skills and in taking the successful Aerospace Growth Partnership forward.

The Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Aeronautical Society will run a competition to win these awards. The Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Philip Greenish, CBE said:

Strengthening the supply of skilled people in key areas of technology such as aerospace engineering is essential for a sustainable economic recovery and to ensure that the UK continues to be a leader in advanced design and manufacturing.

This programme will make a swift and positive impact on the industry, which needs people with the high level engineering skills provided by UK universities. The men and women who pass through the scheme will go on to work at the cutting edge of aviation.

Extra support will be available for small and medium sizes enterprises – their employees will be eligible for a 75% subsidy towards fees.

For more information or to apply for MSc funding, visit

Notes to editors:

1.The Prime Minister first announced the creation of the fund at the Farnborough International Air Show (FIAS) on 10 July.

2.The scheme is aimed at students who, but for the bursary, would not otherwise study at Masters (MSc) level, who intend to seek employment in the aerospace industry, and company employees at sponsor companies and SMEs wishing to up skill. The Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Aeronautical Society are overseeing the programme, and will test in the competition process, the need for the award and the commitment to work in the aerospace sector through the application and interview process. The process will seek to enable a more diverse range of people to reach Chartered Engineer status and to work in the aerospace sector.

3.The sponsor companies are BAE Systems, Bombardier Aerospace (Belfast), EADS/Airbus, Finmeccanica, GKN, MBDA Missile Systems, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty, Rolls-Royce and Spirit AeroSystems. The Department for Employment and Learning in the Northern Ireland Administration is also supporting the programme financially.

4.The courses will be aligned to the priorities outlined in the ‘Strategic Vision for UK Aerospace’ document produced by the Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP), launched at Farnborough on 10 July. The AGP brings business and government together to tackle barriers to growth, boost exports and grow the number of high value jobs in the UK.

5.The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:

  • To create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • To make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • To encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • To create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

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