Networks that foster collaboration have been used for educational purposes for many years as they optimise resources and enhance the student experience by bringing together the very best of the teaching staff available. When nuclear education at UK universities had declined to such an extent that its sustainability was in jeopardy, networking the remaining pockets of expertise at several universities was proposed as the best solution.
The Nuclear Technology Education Consortium (NTEC), was therefore established in 2005, and brings together six preeminent nuclear universities in the UK plus the Nuclear Department of the Defence Academy to provide a Master’s level programme in nuclear science and technology. Following extensive consultation with industry an innovative delivery method of one week modular courses is used for the programme which caters for both full-time and part-time students. Full-time students can complete the programme in one year (September to September) while part-time students complete the programme in three years. As the courses are all delivered in this one-week format they can also be taken individually for continual professional development. The programme can also be completed via web-based distance learning which provides options for the 21st century student wherever they are based.
With many countries embarking on a new build programme, extending the lifetime of their current reactors and planning geological disposal facilities the nuclear workforce will need to expand over the next decade. The flexibility of the NTEC programme allows both the current nuclear workforce to upskill as well as the development of the next generation workforce, providing them with the skills, competencies and professionalism required by the nuclear industry.
Over 200 students have completed the programme on a full-time basis, with 80% either entering the nuclear industry directly, or embarking on further nuclear education programmes, demonstrating that the curriculum of the NTEC programme is matched to the requirements of industry. Nuclear education at UK universities has grown substantially in the last twelve years with NTEC at the forefront, producing graduates to meet the global workforce demand, both in terms of quantity and quality.