BBC Director-General Tony Hall officially opened the £10 million UTC@MediaCityUK campus building today – with the help of CBBC presenter Hacker T Dog! Not to be upstaged by the D-G’s digital ribbon cutting, Hacker found a real ribbon for his own opening ceremony and led students in a rendition of Don’t stop me now.
The new University Technical College at the heart of MediaCityUK in Salford opened for its first students in September, attracting a great deal of attention from students, parents and business.
Designed for 14-18 year olds who have a passion for shaping digital and creative content the UTC’s students study a mixture of academic GCSEs, A levels and technical qualifications as well as getting hands-on, practical experience in specialist pathways such as TV & Film, Graphics & Design, Radio & Audio, and Interactive Media & Gaming.
Tony Hall joined MediaCityUK chief executive Stephen Wild and Sir Rod Aldridge, chair of UTC co-sponsor the Aldridge Foundation, on a tour of the campus, seeing students practising circus skills, working in TV and radio studios, on history and graphics projects. They also met students who have already started their own businesses in the college’s Entrepreneurship Pods.
Earlier student Gabby Sutton presented to the guests on her experience at the UTC, saying:
“I can literally see my future through the window. I can see myself running my own radio shows, researching, being a reporter. And all of that is just a walk away. We are in the heart of Media City… This means we are able to work with the BBC, ITV as well as the University to help our understanding of the media industry.”
The UTC is supported by a strong network of employers including Oracle, Cisco, RM, UKfast Panasonic,The Landing, Flix, Apadmi, Microsoft and Unity. Given its close proximity UTC students are also building close links with the BBC. They have been invited to take part in research projects into virtual reality, producing films with Brook Advisory service and have had talks on film making. BBC presenters have given assemblies on their careers at the Corporation and the UTC is connected to the BBC’s apprenticeship scheme.
Tony Hall said: “I’m delighted to open the new UTC. This college is nurturing the next generation of creative talent – the next generations of digital innovators. You can just sense a real entrepreneurial spirit, here and there’s a great sense of adventure already.”
He encouraged the UTC’s students to “Go play – bust boundaries!”
Anne Casey, who completes her term as the UTC’s founding Principal in the summer, said: “This has been a fantastic day and a real reflection of what makes the UTC such a special place. In the run up to opening our students used the hashtag “unstoppable” as they exchanged messages about coming here, and so it was really fitting to hear Don’t stop me now sung today – even by Hacker!”
“I’d like to thank Tony Hall and the BBC, but also all of the other great employers who work with our students. Alongside our sponsors the University of Salford, the Lowry and the Aldridge Foundation they are a big part of the reason that we were oversubscribed in our opening year and are again for next year.”
Sir Rod Aldridge spoke first at the launch event, thanking the organisations who had helped bring the UTC from vision to reality. He said: “I am so proud on behalf of all of the sponsors – the Foundation, the Lowry and the University of Salford. This is an incredible school at the centre of MediaCityUK and the world of digital creativity. These students are incredible. These students will succeed.”