University technical college

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Offices in Wigan, the home of UTC Wigan from 2013 to 2019

A university technical college (UTC) is a type of specialist secondary school in England that is led by a sponsor university[1][2][3] and has close ties to local business and industry. These university and industry partners support the curriculum development of the UTC, can provide professional development opportunities for teachers, and guide suitably qualified students on to industrial apprenticeships or tertiary education. The sponsor university appoints the majority of the UTC's governors and key members of staff.[4] Pupils transfer to a UTC at the age of 14, part-way through their secondary education.[5] The first UTCs were established in 2010.

Although there are examples of UTCs achieving the outcomes for which they were intended, such as UTC Reading,[citation needed] they have not all been successful. Approximately ten have closed or converted to other arrangements since the programme was introduced.


A university technical college is not a university or a technical college. It is one of 50 or so secondary schools, that have been sponsored by a college with university status. It is a non-selective free school funded directly by the Department for Education,[6] free to attend, and outside the control of the local education authority. Capital costs came from a government grant, and revenue is dependent on pupil numbers.

UTCs were introduced in 2010 by the coalition government under the free schools programme.[6] Michael Gove was the responsible minister at the time, although in 2018 he explained he had opposed the idea but was overridden by George Osborne and David Cameron, who had been lobbied by Lord Baker.[7] UTCs are collectively distinctive in a number of ways. They all have a university as a lead sponsor; further education colleges, charitable organisations and the private sector may co-sponsor a UTC, however they must be led by a university.[4] Like studio schools, University Technical Colleges enroll students aged 14–19,[1] whereas free schools and academies can choose the age range of their pupils. Existing schools cannot convert to become a UTC; all UTCs have to be newly founded schools with no direct transfer intake of pupils.[4]

A distinctive element of UTCs is that they offer technically oriented courses of study, combining National Curriculum requirements with technical and vocational elements. UTCs must specialise in subjects that require technical and modern equipment, but they also all teach business skills and the use of information and communications technology (ICT).[8] UTCs are also supposed to offer clear routes into higher education or further learning in work.[1]

When operating, UTCs receive the same per capita funding as other schools in the local authority, calculated by the same formula, and £87 extra to cover UTC specific administration.[9] This would be £5150 per head in Cheshire in 2021 for a non-disadvantaged child.[10]

The university technical college programme as a whole is sponsored by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust,[11] which promotes the setting up of UTCs. The trust was co-founded by Lord Baker, a Conservative politician and former Secretary of State for Education. Each UTC pays an annual licence fee (£10,000 in 2019)[12] to the trust. Baker Dearing's promotion of UTCs is supported by the Edge Foundation, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Garfield Weston Foundation.[13] Many large companies have pledged to co-sponsor UTCs including Arup, British Airways, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Sony.[14]

In 2017, 48 colleges were open.[15] In May 2021, 50 UTCs had been opened of which 11 had closed, and Sir Simon Milton Westminster UTC about to become the twelfth.[16]

Government minister Elizabeth Berridge told MPs on 29 April 2021 that the government hopes to have a "strong sustainable group of UTCs" by the autumn. She said more could be created only "if there is a bid with a clear vision for the involvement of employers and particularly with the support of the local authority".[16]


The establishment of university technical colleges was criticised by some teaching unions, who claimed they will cause further fragmentation of local provision of education for 16- to 19-year-olds. Others have argued that because they offer similar programmes of study, UTCs will divert funds away from further education colleges.[14]

The age intake range of UTCs have also been criticised, with unions arguing that 14 is too early an age for most children to receive such a specialised education. It has also been suggested that the technical and vocational aspects of UTCs will create a two-tier education system, with UTCs being less well regarded than more academically orientated schools.[14] Parents may be unwilling to move their children at 12, then again at 14, particularly to a new and untested school.[5]

By February 2017, eight UTCs had closed or converted to other school types owing to low pupil numbers.[17][18] Michael Gove, who as Education minister was a driving force behind the UTC policy, wrote in 2017 that it "had not worked", owing to lack of academic rigour.[19]

With the publication of the report on the Medway UTC, in May 2018, five of the 26 UTCs inspected by Ofsted had been placed in special measures.[20][21] George Osborne told a hearing of the Education Select Committee on 2 May 2018 that the model of seeking to move children at the age of 14 has not worked.[22]

In June and July 2018, three further UTC's were rated as "inadequate" by Ofsted – Derby Manufacturing UTC,[23] UTC@Harbourside[24] and Health Futures UTC.[25] UTC@Harbourside closed at the end of the academic year 2018–2019,[26] which made it the ninth UTC to close.

In July 2019, in a statement on their website, South Wiltshire UTC announced it would not be accepting new students in September 2019, but would be supporting Year 11 & 13 students to finish their 2-year courses as intended before closing in August 2020.[27] A previous Ofsted inspection that took place in February 2018 found the college to be inadequate.[28]

A 2018 report by the Education Policy Institute found that more than half of enrolled students left after two years, and academic results lagged other state-funded schools.[29]

By 2019, 31 of the 40 UTCs with published accounts owed money to the Education and Skills Funding Agency, having failed to attract sufficient pupils to make them financially viable. For example, Burnley UTC was built for 800 students but only enrolled 113 in the first three years. Research by accountancy firm Price Bailey found "UTCs with tight cashflow could be seriously affected by these clawbacks. After salaries, which often make up 70%-80% of the budget, there isn’t a lot left. £350,000 per school is the equivalent to seven or eight teachers, so in some cases cuts to staff numbers may be necessary, which could impact educational standards".[5][30]


The National Audit Office assessed the effectiveness of the 58 UTCs in October 2019. It found that the UTC programme had cost £792m since it was launched in 2010. Many schools were at less than half capacity, and often produced worse results than equivalent secondary schools.[31] 4,863 students were attending UTCs that were rated as inadequate, and while 37% of equivalent school students took the English Baccalaureate, at UTCs only 6% did.[32]


Despite the criticisms and problems noted above, two UTCs have been able to flourish. UTC Reading was the first UTC to be judged as "Outstanding" by Ofsted[33] (in June 2015) and to be awarded the World Class Schools Quality Mark[34] (in December 2017). UTC Reading was joined by Energy Coast UTC as Ofsted "Outstanding" in summer 2019.[35]

List of UTCs[edit]

Name Location Opened
Aston University Engineering Academy Birmingham 2012
BMAT STEM Academy Harlow, Essex 2014
Buckinghamshire University Technical College Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire 2013
Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology Cambridge 2014
Crewe Engineering and Design UTC Crewe, Cheshire 2016
Derby Manufacturing UTC Derby 2015
Doncaster UTC Doncaster 2020
Elstree Screen Arts Academy Borehamwood, Hertfordshire 2013
Elutec Dagenham, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham 2014
Energy Coast UTC Workington, Cumbria 2014
Engineering UTC Northern Lincolnshire Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire 2015
Global Academy Hayes, London Borough of Hillingdon 2016
Greater Peterborough UTC Peterborough, Cambridgeshire 2016
Health Futures UTC West Bromwich, Sandwell, West Midlands 2015[36]
Heathrow Aviation Engineering UTC Northwood, London Borough of Hillingdon 2014
JCB Academy Rocester, Staffordshire 2010
The Leigh UTC Dartford, Kent 2014
Lincoln UTC Lincoln 2014
Liverpool Life Sciences UTC Liverpool 2013
London Design and Engineering UTC Royal Docks, London Borough of Newham 2016[37]
Mulberry UTC Bow, London Borough of Tower Hamlets 2017
North East Futures UTC Newcastle upon Tyne 2018[38]
Ron Dearing UTC Hull 2017
Scarborough University Technical College Scarborough, North Yorkshire 2016
SGS Berkeley Green UTC Berkeley, South Gloucestershire 2017[39]
Silverstone University Technical College Silverstone Circuit, Northamptonshire 2013
South Bank Engineering UTC Brixton, London Borough of Lambeth 2016
South Devon UTC Newton Abbot, Devon 2015
South Wiltshire UTC Salisbury, Wiltshire 2015[40]
Thomas Telford University Technical College Wolverhampton 2015 (as West Midlands Construction UTC)
University Technical College Norfolk Norwich 2014
University Technical College Leeds Hunslet, Leeds 2017
UTC Oxfordshire Didcot, Oxfordshire 2015[41]
UTC Plymouth Plymouth, Devon 2013
UTC Portsmouth Portsmouth 2017[42][43]
UTC Reading Reading, Berkshire 2013
UTC Sheffield City Centre Sheffield, South Yorkshire 2013
UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park Sheffield, South Yorkshire 2016
UTC South Durham Newton Aycliffe, County Durham 2016[44]
UTC Swindon Swindon 2014
UTC Warrington Warrington, Cheshire 2016[45]
UTC@MediaCityUK Salford, Greater Manchester 2015[46]
Waterfront UTC Chatham, Kent 2015 (as Medway UTC)[47]
The Watford UTC Watford, Hertfordshire 2014
West Midlands Construction UTC Wolverhampton 2015
WMG Academy for Young Engineers, Coventry Coventry 2014
WMG Academy for Young Engineers, Solihull Solihull 2016

Closed UTCs[edit]

Name Location Opened Closed
Black Country UTC Walsall, West Midlands 2011 2015[48]
Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy Stoke Gifford, South Gloucestershire 2013 2022
UTC Central Bedfordshire Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire 2012 2016[49]
Daventry University Technical College Daventry, Northamptonshire 2013 2017[50]
Greater Manchester University Technical College Oldham, Greater Manchester 2014 2017[51]
Hackney University Technical College London Borough of Hackney 2012 2015[52]
UTC@Harbourside Newhaven, East Sussex 2015[53] 2019[54]
UTC Lancashire Burnley, Lancashire 2013 2017[52]
Sir Simon Milton Westminster UTC City of Westminster, London 2017 2022
South Wiltshire UTC Salisbury 2015 2020[55]
Tottenham University Technical College London Borough of Haringey 2014 2017[56]
University Technical College Wigan Wigan, Greater Manchester 2013 2019[57][5]

Converted away from UTC model[edit]

Name Location Opened Converted New status
Bolton UTC Bolton, Greater Manchester 2015 2020[58] 11–19 free school
Nottingham University Academy of Science and Technology Nottingham 2014 2018[59] 11–18 free school
Royal Greenwich UTC Royal Borough of Greenwich 2013 2016[60] 11–19 free school

Rebrokered and reopened within UTC model[edit]

Name Location Opened Converted New branding
Heathrow Aviation Engineering UTC Hillingdon, Greater London 2014 2018[12] 11–19 UTC Heathrow

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "BBC News - Q&A: University technical colleges". BBC News. Archived from the original on 11 October 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  2. ^ "UTCness". University Technical Colleges. Retrieved 2 March 2022.
  3. ^ "Plans for specialist school UTC Reading unveiled". BBC News. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  4. ^ a b c "Frequently Asked Questions". 1 June 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d Adams, Richard (13 July 2019). "'Vanity project': debts pile up for English free schools scheme". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Thesaurus Term - University technical colleges". Department for Education. January 2013. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  7. ^ Whittaker, Freddie; Offord, Paul (2 February 2018). "Gove was forced to create UTCs". Schools Week. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  8. ^ "What are university technical colleges". Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  9. ^ "University technical colleges how to apply" (PDF). Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  10. ^ Whittaker, Freddie (19 July 2020). "Revealed: per-pupil funding rates from 2021". Schools Week. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  11. ^ "University Technical Colleges" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 June 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  12. ^ a b Camden, Billy (16 August 2019). "Licence fees to almost double for cash-strapped UTCs". Schools Week. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  13. ^ "Sponsors". Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  14. ^ a b c Burns, Judith (29 May 2012). "BBC News - Jaguar Land Rover and British Airways back new colleges". Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  15. ^ "About UTCs / Overview". Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  16. ^ a b Whieldon, Fraser (1 May 2021). "Another UTC looks set to bite the dust". Schools Week. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  17. ^ Weale, Sally (7 February 2017). "£9m Greater Manchester college closes after three years due to lack of pupils". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  18. ^ Camden, Billy (28 April 2017). "UTC crisis deepens as learner numbers drop". FE Week. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  19. ^ Gove, Michael (10 February 2017). "Dividing our children at 14 has not worked". The Times. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  20. ^ Read, Peter. "Medway UTC: Abject Failure -OFSTED - Kent Independent Education Advice". Kent Independent Educational advice. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  21. ^ George, Martin (4 May 2018). "A fifth of UTCs inspected by Ofsted are now in special measures Tes News". Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  22. ^ Camden, Billy (2 May 2018). "UTC architect George Osborne says 14 start age 'hasn't worked'". FE Week. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  23. ^ "Derby Manufacturing UTC: Full inspection report". Ofsted (PDF). 28 June 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  24. ^ "UTC@Harbourside: Full inspection report". Ofsted (PDF). 4 July 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  25. ^ "Health Futures UTC: Full inspection report". Ofsted (PDF). 3 July 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  26. ^ "University Technical College in Newhaven to close next year". BBC News. 2 July 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  27. ^ "Salisbury UTC to Close". South Wilts UTC. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  28. ^ Ofsted Communications Team (28 December 2018). "Find an inspection report and registered childcare". Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  29. ^ "UTCs: are they delivering for young people?". Education Policy Institute. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  30. ^ "Only nine out of 40 University Technical Colleges are operating within budget as they fail to attract pupils". Price Bailey. 27 June 2019. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  31. ^ Ventura, Guglielmo (14 October 2020). "Why do over-16s at UTCs perform, but under-15s don't?". Tes. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  32. ^ Syal, Rajeev (30 October 2019). "Technical schools lavished with Gove funding criticised by watchdog". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  33. ^ "UTC Reading is UK's first 'Outstanding' says OFSTED". University Business. 16 June 2015.
  34. ^ "UTC Reading receives the World Class Schools Quality Mark".
  35. ^ "Energy Coast becomes only second ever 'outstanding' UTC". 4 July 2019.
  36. ^ "University technical colleges are transforming pupils' lives". The Independent. 4 February 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  37. ^ "London Design and Engineering UTC | London Design and Engineering University Technical College". Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  38. ^ Ford, Coreena (27 September 2017). "City centre Newcastle school invites in parents as it prepares for 2018 opening". Chronicle Live. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  39. ^ "College opens at former power station in Gloucestershire". BBC News. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  40. ^ "Work begins on South Wiltshire UTC college". BBC News. 4 August 2014. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  41. ^ "University Technical College Oxfordshire plans approved". BBC News. 31 July 2014. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  42. ^ "Views wanted on bid to set up new technical school". Portsmouth News. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  43. ^ "UTC Portsmouth breaks ground and announces Principal". Portsmouth City Council. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  44. ^ Richardson, Andy. "Train factory is the catalyst for jobs revival (From The Northern Echo)". Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  45. ^ Place North West
  46. ^ "MediaCityUK UTC". The Aldridge Foundation. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  47. ^ "University Technical College". Medway Council. Archived from the original on 15 March 2015.
  48. ^ "Doomed Black Country UTC failed to promote vocational options, inspectors find". FE Week. 22 May 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  49. ^ Whittaker, Freddie (10 March 2016). "Struggling Central Bedfordshire UTC to close despite FE college's intervention". FE Week.
  50. ^ "Daventry UTC To Close In 2017". Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  51. ^ "Brand new £9m school to close after all of its pupils fail GCSEs". The Independent. 8 February 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  52. ^ a b "UTC Lancashire to shut up shop after just three years". FE Week. 6 May 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  53. ^ "Utc@Harbourside Principal Appointed". Haven News. 12 August 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  54. ^ "University Technical College in Newhaven to close next year". BBC News. 2 July 2018. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  55. ^ "Salisbury UTC to Close". South Wilts UTC. 16 July 2019. Archived from the original on 5 November 2019.
  56. ^ Mansell, Warwick (10 January 2017). "Failing Spurs-sponsored school costs taxpayer £500,000 rent a year | Warwick Mansell". The Guardian.
  57. ^ "Wigan UTC will close as low student numbers are unviable". Wigan Today. 4 April 2019. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  58. ^ Chaudhari, Saiqa (28 February 2020). "Why your child could receive a place at this school on Monday". The Bolton News. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  59. ^ "Statutory Information". NUAST. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  60. ^ Camden, Billy (7 October 2016). "Fresh concerns over failing UTC model as one in 10 now shut". FE Week. Retrieved 21 January 2018.

External links[edit]