Heriot-Watt University’s graduate apprenticeships initiative, already one of the largest of its kind, is poised to welcome a record number of candidates.
September’s bumper intake will represent the third cohort since the programme was launched at the Edinburgh-based institution.
The graduate apprenticeship scheme has grown markedly year-on-year, with 23 candidates in 2017, 158 in 2018 and even more students set to begin the latest four-year programme, which combines four days working within partner companies with one day on site at Heriot-Watt.
The places are fully funded so no fees are paid for the whole degree programme, by employers or apprentices.
With a strong focus on work-based learning tailored to the needs of industry and individuals, the programme has partnerships with more than 70 companies and organisations – from large multinationals to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the public sector, including Amazon, Bosch, Diageo, Edinburgh Airport, HSBC, Leonardo, MacTaggart Scott, Mitsubishi, NHS, Royal Bank of Scotland and the Scottish Government.
The latest milestone for the university will be the launch of its Global Research, Innovation and Discovery (GRID) facility, which opens its doors to students next month and will be the hub for graduate apprenticeship learning.
The new facility is positioned to bring together academic research, business and enterprise, students and entrepreneurship to form an ecosystem centred on innovation.
The facility operates a business and enterprise hub which serves as an incubator for start-ups and entrepreneurs to co-locate and commercialise their creative ideas.
"GRID at Heriot-Watt" will drive the university’s capabilities with immersive technology, artificial intelligence (AI), cyber security and 3D visualisation.
Capabilities in AI and intelligent sensors will also play a significant role in the development of the UK’s first National Robotarium in 2021 – a £35 million joint venture between Heriot-Watt and the University of Edinburgh, as part of a data-driven innovation initiative from the Edinburgh and South-East City Deal.
Sandy Murray, director of apprenticeships at Heriot-Watt University, said: “Our graduate apprenticeships programme is centred around workplace expertise and building skill sets to help drive the emerging data-driven economies in Scotland.
“The immersive nature of the programme means that candidates are adding value to their companies from day one by bringing academic knowledge back into the company.
“Likewise, candidates are also bringing challenges from their companies back into the university and we’re seeing that lead to a virtuous circle and people interacting to solve problems from out on the corporate coalface.”
He added: “People are often surprised to hear that Heriot-Watt has been offering work-based learning since 1821 and we think that demonstrates the ethos of the university and our continuing commitment to our students and their existing or future employers at a time of rapid technological advances in the early 21st century.”