Exciting changes are on the horizon that will reinvigorate the Kent and Medway economy and transform its graduate Engineering and Technology talent pool.

Canterbury Christ Church University is working in partnership with local businesses to develop and deliver innovative degree-level, professionally accredited qualifications, provided as major new full-time, part-time and apprenticeship-based courses that are designed collaboratively to fulfil the needs of the engineering and technology sectors.

These newly developed professional qualifications will be delivered and supported through the new Kent and Medway Engineering, Design, Growth and Enterprise (EDGE) Hub, funded through £6.12m from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership and a further £7m from the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Catalyst Fund.

The EDGE Hub will be established by 2020 to deliver work-ready graduates for local SMEs, alongside new innovation services, technologies and facilities, and will be a multimillion-pound facility in Canterbury with distributed centres of excellence across Kent and Medway. This hub-and-spoke model will enable the centres of excellence to be easily accessible by regional SMEs, and will become instrumental in improving regional access to engineering and technology graduates while retaining them in Kent and Medway to ensure future economic success.

“The University is a major contributor to the regional economy and we want to ensure the region continues to prosper by working hand-in-hand with the business community. Our development of engineering presents a clear opportunity to provide highly skilled graduates and facilities, supporting SMEs to succeed.”

Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Canterbury Christ Church University


Services will be delivered flexibly, built around companies’ needs, including work-based learning routes for people in work that can be funded under the Government’s new Apprenticeship Levy scheme. The EDGE Hub will also be made accessible to businesses, with a local presence through satellite centres in business parks, key research sites and near major concentrations of engineering and technology companies.

Phil Hart, Managing Director of MEP Ltd, said: “The Kent and Medway EDGE Hub is an exciting and significant partnership response to the region’s challenges and opportunities, which has brought together businesses, industry and Canterbury Christ Church University to design a powerful and long-term solution.”

As well as working with some of the big names in engineering and technology, the EDGE Hub will work collaboratively with SMEs. Christ Church will work with businesses to respond quickly to the latest sector developments, with a programme of continuing professional development, short courses and guest speaker events. Companies will also benefit from industry-led research and development projects, focused on real-world business needs.

Nationally, there is an annual shortage of over 20,000 graduate engineers (Engineering UK, 2017) and women make up only 11% of the engineering workforce (WISE, 2017). To challenge the gender and national skills gap, the University aims to attract 35% women and 40% of new learners from less advantaged communities to its courses, strongly promoting equality and diversity in education and industry. Christ Church is also removing barriers to success by taking away the need for A-level physics – designing the engineering knowledge required as students learn.


This article first appeared in the 2018 State of the Relationship report, commissioned by Research England and compiled and published by NCUB.