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16th April 2009, 9:37am
University and RAF partnership could save taxpayers millions
Foundation Degree Students A new degree programme developed by the University of Lincoln and the Royal Air Force is helping to produce the next generation of officers whilst potentially saving taxpayers millions of pounds.

The Foundation Degree in Engineering Management, launched in 2007, was designed to prepare students for initial officer training at RAF College Cranwell.

The first cohort of students to complete the programme received their degree certificates during a ceremony at Lincoln Cathedral in January.

The outcomes of group projects undertaken as part of the degree have shown that significant benefits for the taxpayer may be achieved.

The potential savings from the projects, which amongst others focussed on ways of enhancing aircraft engine maintenance, are estimated to be in the region of £500,000 per annum across the aircraft fleet.

As part of the programme, students developed supporting maintenance procedures which will help to reduce the frequency with which the engines of Tornado aircraft need removing and re-fitting.  BAe Systems, which supported the students on this project, was impressed with the results, and there is now significant potential for future collaboration on projects allocated to the second Foundation Degree cohort.

The partnership between the University of Lincoln and the RAF was developed in conjunction with the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering at RAF Cosford and RAF Cranwell by academics in the Universityís Lincoln Business School who were once themselves officers in the RAF.

It began in 2000 with the launch of the BSc (Hons) in Engineering Management. This was followed by the BSc (Hons) in Logistics Management in 2003 and the MSc in Logistics Management in 2006.

The Foundation Degree in Engineering Management, established in 2007, represents a stepping stone to initial officer training at RAF College Cranwell after which students progress to Engineering Officer Foundation Training (EOFT). Completion of EOFT is accredited as part-completion of the Universityís BSc (Hons) in Engineering Management - so the Foundation Degree could prove to be the launch pad for a bachelorís award or masterís degree.

In total, there are now more than 500 students on the various degree programmes.

Professor David Head, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law at the University of Lincoln, said: ďAll these degree programmes, which have been developed in partnership with the RAF, are completed through work-based learning. In other words, they take into account the high levels of skill and knowledge that are demonstrated every day in the workplace and provide a degree framework to support and accredit this learning. They are designed to allow students to make maximum use of their work experience and previous learning. The duration of all the degree programmes offered to the RAF varies depending on each studentís personal circumstances, accredited experience, previous learning and work commitments Ė including active service overseas.Ē

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