The University of Brighton has teamed up with seven highways authorities and their main contractors to launch a Highways Engineering MSc, billed as the first course designed specifically for local authority highways managers.
Local authorities and their contractors in the south-east, including Brighton & Hove, West and East Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Kent and Medway councils, along with Balfour Beatty, May Gurney and Amey, plan to fund 16 places on the new masters course which has been developed with the university.
The first intake of students will be this month.
Surrey County Council leader David Hodge said the aim for the council was to combine forces and create the excellent heads of highways services of the future.
He said: “People delivering highway services need to be equipped with skills that are hard to acquire on traditional engineering courses. Only by having the best staff can we provide the best services.”
The university believes that the masters course will fill a gap in the market by advancing engineers’ skills and knowledge in contract management and commissioning as well as on the technical aspects of highways engineering.
Dr Mark Jones (pictured), head of the university’s Centre for Collaboration and Partnership, said: “This is another excellent example of the university and employers working closely together to ensure that programmes of study are aligned with the needs of specific sectors.”
Some councils, having to rationalise staff in the past, have lost technical expertise and knowledge base. The authorities are collaborating and bringing resources together to ensure that this mistake isn’t repeated during the current downturn.
They want highway engineers to gain good management and technical skills and so have championed the need for a qualification that reflects the changes in the local authority role.