Innovative science course recognised with UK award nomination

By Rachel Holdsworth - 16 May 2013

Work by University of Hertfordshire and Melbourn Scientific to reduce the skills shortage in life sciences has been recognised in the national awards given to outstanding trainers.

The joint project was a finalist in the Provider of the Year category at the Cogent UK Life Science Skills Awards 2013.  

Melbourn Scientific has helped the University to develop and deliver a new part-time MSc degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences that involves a high proporation of practical lab work and meets the needs of progressive companies.

Government life sciences adviser and biotechnology entrepreneur George Freeman MP says: “Brilliance is often rewarded in science but practical skills are equally important to industry. I am delighted to see how business and academia have combined forces to create this joint initiative to address the skills shortage.”

Mark Hammond, CEO, Melbourn Scientific says: “The UK has a strong track record in pharma and biotech and we are winning work from organisations across the world including the US and India. To maintain our position we need enthusiastic and committed people.

"By working with schools and universities in the region we hope to inspire young people to take a career in science. The scientists we employ need a diverse range of skills practical, analytical and interpersonal, this is reflected in the new MSc.

“The industry needs to work more closely with academic partners to ensure we have the skills to meet the needs of today and the innovation to lead the markets of tomorrow.”

Science courses with the required intensive practical component are resource-hungry for academic institutions and the number of applicants has fallen in recent years. So industry involvement is imperative to reverse this trend.

Dr Darragh Murnane, associate dean of the School of Life and Medical Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, saw an opportunity to respond to the challenge and engaged the support of companies and opinion formers within the region’s Golden Triangle of pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries to develop and deliver a range of new postgraduate programmes.

Organisations included Melbourn Scientific, GlaxoSmithKline and The Organisation for Professionals in Regulatory Affairs.

Dr Murnane says, “We are delighted that our work to address the skills gap and meet the needs of regional industries has been recognised by being finalists for this award. With the help of expert opinion we have developed an innovative course that is fit for purpose and students can complete part-time on day-release from their place of work.

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