EDUCATION WEEK: Culture minister hails the Dundee university 'a model to follow'

Vaizey: Excellent Abertay mustn’t be an exception

Ed Vaizey, the culture minister, believes academic institutions must follow Abertay University’s example to revive the UK games industry.

The Dundee-based university is widely praised for working tightly with the games industry, as part of a wider aim to produce graduates that games studios are looking for.

“Abertay was held up as the model that higher education institutions in the UK should emulate in a review published just this week by games industry experts,” he said in reference to the Livingstone-Hope Skills Review.

Vaizey said Abertay “is what the UK needs more of if we are to keep a place at the forefront of games development on the world stage”.

His views come as a welcome endorsement of the Skill Review’s grand scheme for revitalising game-based education in the UK.

Develop is covering critical issues surrounding the Review as part of its Education Week. More on that can be found here.

The 88-page document revealed that only 12 per cent of UK game dev students had found an industry job after six months since graduating. Reasons for this are numerous, complex and need urgent attention, the Review explained in detail.

But the report highlighted Abertay as a “pocket of excellence” – an exception to the rule with highly sought-after graduates.

“The UK is among the world’s best in games and special effects development but staying at the top will all depend on having the right talent, skills and expertise,” Vaizey said.

“Students [at Abertay] are being given the practical skills that they will need when they start work, not just taught the theory. This is what the UK needs more of if we are to keep a place at the forefront of games development on the world stage.”

Vaizey made his comments during a publicised visit to the Dundee university, where he was shown Abertay’s new prototyping studio which provides support to uni spin-offs and start-ups.

The Prototyping studio was given a £2.5 million grant from the previous Labour government.

Paul Durrant, the director of business development at Abertay, said the institution’s ties with industry helps far more than its students.

“As well as training students in the demanding skills businesses need, we’re also investing directly into the most promising new, young companies,” he said.

“Our prototyping fund will give the most exceptional early stage companies up to £25,000 to develop their ideas into a fully working prototype, so they can attract investment to complete their project and launch a new company.”

The Skills Review also praised Bournemouth University as another pocket of excellence.

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