On Tuesday Robert Buckland who is the Conservative MP for South Swindon stated a motion in Parliament under the title of “Institutes of Technology (Royal Charter)” and his statement included a number of very significant issues. However the Institute of Technology (IOT) was not a subject I am familiar of until this week. Now to be clear I am a member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) which is an agency that I joined seven years ago. The IET was formed in 2006 from two separate institutions: the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE), dating back to 1871, and the Institution of Incorporated Engineers (IIE) dating back to 1884. When I was at Brighton Polytechnic in 1978 I did not join either of the Engineering agencies but the IET is a much stronger agency as indeed it has been for the last 16 years. It is not a political group. However 10 years after the IIE and IEE formed the IET, the Conservative Government formed the IOT in 2016. They announced plans to establish agencies as part of its reforms to post-16 skills provision
“to provide technical education in STEM subjects at levels 3, 4 and 5. Each IoT is likely to build on infrastructure that already exists but will have its own independent identity, governance arrangements which directly involve employers and national branding”.
The first wave of 12 institutes was announced in 2019. Bidding for a second wave started in 2020. My concern is that the IOT is much more modest and much more politically focused than the IET and indeed if we focus on the IOT reference we are much more likely to collect the Internet of Things! However as I mentioned Robert Buckland did make some very useful comments. One of the challenges for the IOT is that there is no agencies in the South East which is very disappointing. The IOT website is here. The IET website is available here. The following words came from Robert Buckland whose statement as a whole can be found here.
The Government have always rightly seen IOTs as
“the pinnacle of technical training”, and the next step is to cement that status. Learners and employers alike need to see IOTs as the go-to provider of levels 4 and 5 technical STEM provision, benefiting not just themselves but the economy as a whole. Choosing to study, say, engineering at an IOT must be seen as an equivalent alternative to studying at degree level at one of our best universities.
To firmly establish IOTs as the pre-eminent organisations for technical STEM education, I want to ensure that successful IOTs may apply to receive a royal charter, securing their long-term position as anchor institutions within their region and placing them on the same level as our world-leading historic universities. I am confident that the Under-Secretary of State for Education, my hon. Friend Alex Burghart, and the Department he represents here today will support this initiative and that a new process for IOTs to apply will—sooner rather than later, I hope—become a reality.