Free university places to support timber industry

Published:  14 June, 2013

A Scottish university is offering free places on a specialist masters degree in a bid to support the UK’s timber industry.

Edinburgh Napier University, backed by some of the sector’s leading firms, is providing at least 13 scholarships on its MSc Timber Engineering course with hopes that further sponsored places can be created in the future.

The new initiative is aiming to address a long-acknowledged skills gap in the sector.

Geoff Rhodes, chair of Edinburgh Napier University’s Forest Product Research Institute advisory board, said: “This has been driven in response to the UK’s lack of training and expertise in timber-related technology knowledge linked to structural engineering, which has resulted in a reluctance among engineers, contractors, architects and designers to work with wood. Too many construction professionals are comfortable and confident using steel and concrete, but averse to timber, based on the limited knowledge transfer that comes through the syllabus and structure of typical UK Civil and Structural engineering degree programmes.

“There’s a growing appetite for more sustainable building practices too, with the whole sector experiencing a number of positive environmentally driven changes. This scholarship scheme will also provide a valuable opportunity for students to gain work experience and learn directly from industry professionals.”

Leading UK industry names including Consolidated Timber Holdings, Crown Timber, Arnold Laver, BSW Timber, Oregon Timber Frame, James Latham and James Jones & Sons have all signed up to support the initiative. International firms including Norbord and Kingspan Timber Solutions have also given their backing, along with Accsys Technologies, manufacturer of Accoya modified wood, software company SEMA4c and the bodies representing the Timber industry: Timber Trade Federation (TTF) and UK Timber Frame Association (UKTFA).

Prospective students will receive £3,750 towards course costs, with a number of the available scholarships also offering a one-off sum to help cover living costs. Scholars will be assigned a ‘company mentor’ who can assist with career development, and will have the opportunity to engage with the sponsor company to gain valuable industry insight and experience during their studies, which could lead to employment opportunities in the future.

The one-year course covers topics including timber design and construction, environmentally sustainable design and project management. Starting in September, the course can be studied on a part-time or full-time basis.

In order to be eligible for a scholarship place, applicants should be domiciled in the UK and should be eligible to work in the UK. Candidates must also have an honours degree in an Engineering subject, although candidates with a lower level qualification in a similar area (e.g. BSc/BEng in Engineering) coupled with appropriate experience, may also be considered.

For more information about the scholarships available please email: or look for ‘MSc Timber Engineering’ on Edinburgh Napier’s scholarship webpage.

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