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MK:U – a new kind of university designed with business

We are inspired by new technologies and industries, providing technical, creative, and commercial skills for the future digital workforce and driving sustainable innovation and growth for individuals, industry and wider society.

MK:U is different by design and will completely transform how we think about higher education.

MK:U will be a destination for continuous engagement, enabling outreach into the local community. It represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for partners and sponsors to work together to create something powerful and unique – a new model university for the 21st century.

Our curriculum was designed in partnership with employers to meet urgent employment needs and fill the digital skills gap. At MK:U, we understand business talent needs and produce work-ready graduates with advanced professional skills.

Our first four Level 6 degree apprenticeships, available now, are:

Cranfield University, a specialist postgraduate university focused on technology and management, joined forces with Milton Keynes Council and business partners that already include Santander and Grant Thornton to make the MK:U vision a reality.

Our Business Supporters Group consists of 111 businesses employing over 770,000 people including: Network Rail, Capita, Microsoft, Arcadis, MacAfee and many more.

Education at MK:U is framed around business, preparing students for the workplace and focusing as much on the practical application of knowledge as its theoretical base. This is achieved by consulting regularly with employers on their needs and working with them to identify current and future skills gaps.

Professional skills at the heart of the curriculum

In-depth consultations with businesses as part of the design phase of the curriculum have led to the development of an 'MK:U Professional Skills Framework'.

mku professional skills diagram

In this framework, 'personal development', 'business awareness' and 'working effectively' are key skills which will be delivered and assessed throughout the early part of each degree. The skills curriculum will culminate in a substantial project (‘professional project’) which will consolidate the technical and professional skills acquired throughout the entire degree programme.

All aspects of MK:U courses, including professional skills and technical curriculum, are kept current with guidance from Advisory Boards comprising local and national employers. Advisory Board members will also play an active role in stimulating site visits, case studies, student projects and on-site learning

Practical, problem-based learning

Our education style is different from other universities. Instead of traditional lectures and exams, our entire curriculum uses problem-based learning (PBL) as our core educational approach. This ‘hands-on’, experience-based educational approach values all practical applications of knowledge including projects, site visits, case studies and simulations which promote collaboration and communication on all levels.

This approach is also reflected in the admissions of students – while academic attainment is part of the admissions process, there will also be opportunities for students to demonstrate their potential aptitude to study at MK:U.

Living laboratory

The practical, experiential approach to education adopted by MK:U includes student research and practical projects that use MK:U’s knowledge quarter and the city itself as their proving ground. This ‘Living Lab’ enables students and entrepreneurs to showcase and test exciting new ideas on the ground.

Flexible hybrid

Today’s workforce will need to retrain and/or skill up multiple times during their working lives. With this in mind, MK:U education has been designed around a flexible learning model to drive adaptability and innovation required in the 21st century. We know that face-to-face sessions are important to learners; however, we also know that it is not always possible to physically attend all sessions. MK:U offers a hybrid delivery approach using the latest technology to keep the high standard of delivery in all environments, allowing learners to attend either in person or remotely.

Apprentices can range from new employees who have no prior experience to existing staff who have developed an understanding of the subject through their work, previous studies - or even as a hobby - but lack a formal degree qualification in their field. There is no upper age limit on who can do a degree apprenticeship, and we work with you to help you select your most promising candidates. We can also advise you on how to manage the work-based training and supervision they need.

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