STUDENTS across south Essex can get higher qualifications at Prospects College from this September after it signed a deal with the Government.

The college will become the country’s first new education college in 20 years offering the equivalent of degree level qualifications in engineering, building services and aviation and teaming up with employers to give youngsters greater experience.

The college, which has campuses in Basildon, Southend and Castle Point, can also now rely on Government funding and will be renamed Prospects College of Advanced Technology.

Making the announcement yesterday the Government’s Skills and Enterprise Minister, MatthewHancock, said: “Prospects College of Advanced Technology will offer high-level specialist vocational provision with employer ownership at the heart of its mission.”

Neil Bates, chief executive of Prospects College, said: “Prospects has a proud history spanning 45 years during which time we have trained thousands of people for careers in the engineering and construction industry.

“Working hand in hand with our employers we will train the next generation of technician engineers, aerospace engineers, project managers, building service engineers and skilled construction workers.

“We aspire to be world class and nothing less will do.”

The new college will serve more than 2,000 students and apprentices. It will offer Higher National Diplomas from level one all the way up to level five.