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Dyson Blows Fresh Air Into Higher Education With Private University

Alan Tovey, The Daily Telegraph

Sir James Dyson is  launching his own university to deliver the engineering graduates that British businesses are struggling to find.

Inside the Dyson campus in Malmesbury

Inside the Dyson campus in Malmesbury CREDIT: SIMON DAWSON/BLOOMBERG

The product that made Sir James Dyson famous, the cyclonic bagless vacuum cleaner, came about because the inventor wasn’t satisfied with what was available on the market back in 1978.

Five years and 5,127 prototypes later, he came up with his own design that did exactly what he wanted.

Now the entrepreneur is doing the same with education – launching his own university to deliver the engineering graduates that British businesses are struggling to find.

“We have an insatiable appetite for good engineers and our course will teach them while they are working on real live projects, rather than just learning abstract engineering principles in academia,” said Sir James, who will pay students an annual salary starting at £15,000 in the first year.

“One of the attractions of this course is that it is free, and students will graduate with a guaranteed job and no debt.”

The entrepreneur – who is estimated to be worth £3bn – is spending £15m in the first year on setting up what will be called the Dyson Institute of Technology, which he insists is “not a business, not even philanthropic, but a really good idea as we need people who are educated”..

The first intake for the four-year course will be 25 students, though Sir James said he expects this to increase as the course establishes itself at the company’s Cotswolds headquarters.

While they might not get the full university experience, Sir James says they will feel at home at Dyson’s base in Malmesbury. The average age of the 3,000 employees is 26 and a “campus feel” has been intentionally created, with a university-style quad, cafes and sports centre. Accommodation will be built at the headquarters and Sir James said that although the town’s local pubs are “very good, there will probably be alcohol on site”.

One day a week students will be taught by academics from the University of Warwick, which will initially award the degrees. However, Sir James said if recommendations to simplify setting up private universities in a White Paper now being considered by government become law, the company will be able to award its own degrees and rename as Dyson University. Sir James said he hoped this could happen as soon as next year.

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