Relaunch heralds bright new future for National College as part of University of Birmingham group

Ian Fitzpatrick (L) and Professor Tim Jones


The University of Birmingham is launching the new National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure (NCATI) in a special collaboration between higher and further education.

As part of the University group, the new NCATI will produce a new generation of highly skilled professionals to lead Britain’s future rail, transport and infrastructure workforce. NCATI will draw on the University’s internationally-recognised rail expertise and, with strong industry and a wide range of partners, will help address the sector’s skills gaps in the Midlands and the North.

Professor Tim Jones, Provost and Vice-Principal at the University of Birmingham, said: “Our collaboration with NCATI is a unique project, which the University of Birmingham is particularly well-placed to deliver. We’re looking forward to securing a bright new future for learners, industry partners and local communities, using our internationally-recognised expertise in railway education to deliver the next generation of skilled workers into the sector.

The launch is the culmination of a rigorous process where the University worked with the Department for Education to secure a successful, sustainable and inclusive future for the College.

A new Principal, Ian Fitzpatrick, has been appointed to lead the College in its mission to be world-class in the provision of national education outcomes in the rail, transport and infrastructure sectors.

Ian said: “I’m extremely proud to be joining NCATI and to have the opportunity to work with a great team on its next phase. I am looking forward to continuing to build the reputation of the College so that it is the focal point for skills development in the sector; as well as creating and delivering an innovative high-quality provision that is ambitious and inclusive. I’m excited to start supporting our learners to reach their full potential and fulfilling the needs of employers and stakeholders.”

At state-of-the-art campuses in Birmingham and Doncaster, the new NCATI will provide high quality education and training with a distinctive local offering that specialises in Railway and Transportation Engineering.  In addition, a hub and spoke model will see NCATI collaborating with education partners around the UK, ensuring it fully plays its role as a National College.

Apprenticeships will be a fundamental part of the NCATI curriculum moving forward. Following a thorough application process, the new NCATI has been accepted onto the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers and is now preparing for new apprentices to join the College in the coming months.

Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills Gillian Keegan said: “It is fantastic to have agreed a new partnership between the University of Birmingham and the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure.

“This partnership protects opportunities for apprentices, tackles skills gaps across the region and initiates an exciting collaboration between Further Education and Higher Education, delivering high level technical skills in an important sector of the UK economy.

“As we continue to rebuild and reopen, I look forward to seeing students being welcomed to the college’s state-of-the-art campuses in Birmingham and Doncaster, and wish them all the best on their future studies and training.”

By developing impactful collaborations with education providers, employers and industry bodies, NCATI will also become established as an integral part of the Government’s transport, infrastructure and broader industrial strategy.

The need for a highly skilled workforce to deliver the Government’s ambitious programme of transport infrastructure investment was highlighted in its most recent Transport Infrastructure and Skills Strategy. The strategy emphasises the importance of high quality training in the sector to support its levelling up agenda and post-covid recovery, as well as an ambitious programme of transport infrastructure investment.

Professor Clive Roberts, Head of the School of Engineering at the University of Birmingham, said: “NCATI offers us the opportunity to support our existing and new partners across the rail, broader transportation and infrastructure sectors. The provision of high quality vocational education is critical to ensuring that the current and future workforce has the right skills to deliver the pipeline of existing projects. The national reach of the College allows individuals and companies in all parts of the country to benefit from the courses on offer.”

HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said: “The new National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure will provide valuable training, new skills and real opportunities for people entering the sector for the first time, as well as those seeking to retrain.

“We will continue to work closely with the College as it strives to attract a diverse range of talent to the transport sector.”

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, Chair of Network Rail, said: “We very much welcome the collaboration between the new NCATI and the University of Birmingham and look forward to supporting the college as it develops the next generation of skilled workers.”

Kate Myers, Head of Skills, Employment and Education at HS2 Ltd said: “The new National College will play a crucial role in upskilling students for the breadth of careers that HS2 and other major infrastructure and rail engineering projects are creating. With construction well underway on HS2 between London and Birmingham, and approval to extend the line north to Crewe, the number of opportunities for skilled individuals is increasing daily. We look forward to working collaboratively with NCATI to ensure HS2 fulfils its aim of leaving a lasting legacy in skills and engineering in the UK.”

University of Birmingham background
The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.

  • About the University’s railway engineering expertise:
    • In the specific area of railway engineering and operations, which is at the heart of NCATI, the University is by far the largest provider of Level 6 and Level 7 education, with over 550 students registered in the UK and Singapore.
    • The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) has an international reputation for translational research and education, and was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2017 for its international contribution to railway research and education.
  • About the University’s civic role:
    • The University of Birmingham was founded as the UK’s first civic university, a university that would work in partnership with the city’s commerce and industry and deliver benefits for citizens that extend well beyond higher education, this remains core to our purpose.
    • We are the only university to have opened our own secondary university training school dedicated to raising aspiration and achievement. The School, which was established in 2015 is a comprehensive non-selective institution with a highly diverse student population. This level of commitment is sector-leading, and we see this as a core element of our contribution to supporting young people from all backgrounds in the region. The experience that the University has gained in establishing the School has informed its decision to seek to lead and manage NCATI.
    • Incorporating NCATI into the wider University of Birmingham Group will allow us to deepen our civic engagement in the West Midlands, whilst establishing a presence in South Yorkshire.
    • We will ensure the National College is able to provide opportunities to the greatest possible number of local residentswith routes into further education and work. Key to this is a hub and spoke model which will enable high quality education to be delivered in collaboration with local partners throughout the UK.

NCATI background
The National College for Advanced Transport & Infrastructure (NCATI) is a Further Education college and a subsidiary of the University of Birmingham. Based at state-of-the-art campuses in Birmingham and Doncaster, the College is headed up by Principal, Ian Fitzpatrick.

The College has been established to provide inclusive and high-quality education and training that meet the needs of learners, industry partners and local communities, supporting local, regional and national economic growth. Working collaboratively with partners and the University of Birmingham, the College provides a lifelong learning opportunity supported by railway, transport and infrastructure qualifications and competencies.

NCATI is a new institution, replacing the Further Education Corporation of The National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure, which dissolved on 29 April 2021.