The UK’s first masters degree to train the next generation of roads engineers has been extended to include all private sector firms across the country.
EM Highway Services is the first to send a student on SE7’s two-year MSc in highway engineering management.
Councils outside the seven local authorities in SE7 have also been invited to send staff on the course launched in 2012 with Brighton University.
Previously only the seven councils and their contractors, such as Kier, could enrol students.
The latest group of seven students started last month, with their time divided between learning on the job at one of the SE7 members or their contractors and university lectures.
SE7 was formed to find ways to improve services and save millions of pounds. The seven local authorities involved cover Surrey, East Sussex, West Sussex, Kent, Hampshire, Brighton and Hove and Medway.
Each one focuses on a specific area of work. Surrey has the lead role for highways, with other councils in charge of areas such as IT.
Surrey leader David Hodge said: “Our course was created to make sure we have highways engineers ready and able to go the extra mile and it’s great to be able to extend it to the private sector and other councils beyond the SE7 group.
“We’re serious about improving our roads by doing more for less and that means equipping the next generation of senior highways managers with the blend of technical and managerial skills they will need now and in the future.”
Study areas include contracts, engineering theory and design, asset and procurement management and personnel management. It is expected that 17 students will have graduated by this summer.