Specialist HS2 college set to drop ‘high speed’ from its name

The National College for High Speed Rail, which has campuses in Doncaster and Birmingham, is set to drop “high speed” from its name following a consultation.

It wants to rebrand to the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure after being open just 18 months.

The college has launched a formal consultation for the change, which it says reflects a “growing demand for higher technical skills across a rage of advanced transport and infrastructure developments” such as light rail, metro and freight, airports, smart mobility and digital transport systems.

Clair Mowbray, chief executive of the College, has reportedly denied claims that the change may be linked to low student uptake.

Minutes from a meeting in December 2018 suggested that some board members thought that its name was a “limiting factor” in student uptake, according to The Guardian.

The College said it had enrolled 336 learners, both full-time and apprentices, in 2018/19 and is on track to reach its learner target of 396 learners by the end of this academic year.

The facilities opened at the end of 2017 with the intent to supply and upskill the next generation of engineers and designers. It’s supported by the Department of Transport as well as HS2 Ltd.

The HS2 scheme itself is facing difficulties. The second phase which will cover the proposed Northern routes to Leeds and Manchester has yet to be confirmed, and some Conservative hopefuls are talking about axing the entire scheme. It also came under fire for spending £600m on properties which campaigners say were undervalued by HS2.

Ms Mowbray said: “As an industry-led and industry-focused College, our proposed name change is a response to the conversations we’ve been having with employers across the transport and infrastructure sectors.

“While High Speed Rail is core to our brand and offer, learnings from our start-up process have made it clear that our current name does not convey the broader scope of higher-level training that we are capable of offering.

“In our efforts to train the next generation of engineers needed for HS2 and beyond, we want to ensure that our vision and ability to support the broader transport and infrastructure sector is clearly articulated.”

A spokesperson for HS2 said: “We fully support the proposed name change, which enables the college to better reflect the breadth of high-quality learning and skills opportunities it delivers.”

The consultation process will take place from 29 April to 29 May.