Santander is making a major commitment to future talent by pledging to hand over £30 million in funding for a new university in Milton Keynes, which will have 5,000 students and be the UK’s first university focused on digital and data science skills.
Dubbed MK:U, Santander’s contribution is one of the biggest corporate donations to British higher education in recent years. Alongside £10 million in capital financing, Santander will pay £20 million in running costs for the university’s first three years.
The capital costs will help finance buildings in Central Milton Keynes (the central business district of Milton Keynes), which will serve as the heart of the new university when it opens in 2023.
MK:U is being developed by Cranfield University, whose chief executive Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: "Santander’s support is a major sign of confidence in MK:U by a huge international and local employer. It shows that world-class businesses like Santander are crying out for career-ready, highly-skilled graduates for the digital age, providing jobs and growth in the next century.”
The university aims to work in partnership with business to develop the talent and skills needed by nearby businesses. It will have a strong focus on digital technologies and offer two-year degrees, higher apprenticeship-level qualifications, and work placements designed alongside employers.
The curriculum will include content which is delivered and designed by industry partners – in fields like artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics.
Santander UK chief executive Nathan Bostock said the financial services group is "deeply proud" of its connection to Milton Keynes, having recently invested of £150 million in a new HQ in the town.
“MK:U will cement Milton Keynes’ growing reputation as a key national and international hub for technology and innovation. It will also provide a pipeline of talent and fantastic development opportunities for our staff in important areas including data science, artificial intelligence and cyber security. Like every industry, banking is being revolutionised by digital technology and we want to be at the forefront of this change for our customers.”