Graduate Excellence - Delivering the UK's first engineering degree for food and drink manufacturing

Rising tuition fees in England could prevent highly talented young people from going to university due to the huge costs and no guarantee of employment after graduation.

This presents food and drink manufacturers with a real opportunity to take collective action now to secure a sufficient flow of highly talented engineering graduates into the food and drink manufacturing industry.

That is why a MEng Food Engineering degree course is being developed by the Food and Drink Federation; the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink and Sheffield Hallam University with co-investment from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills through the Employer Investment Fund.

What is Graduate Excellence?

Graduate Excellence is a project that will create the UK's first accredited engineering degree at Master's level dedicated entirely to the needs of food and drink manufacturing.

The MEng Food Engineering is being developed for the industry, by the industry, and will create a pool of specialist engineers equipped to meet the specific needs of the sector. First entrants on the course will begin in September 2014.

To enhance the delivery of the degree, support from industry and funding agencies is currently being sought to develop a Centre of Excellence for food engineering. The Centre would have state of the art facilities and enable students on the course to be exposed to the latest technological developments.

The development of new engineering talent, working on innovative projects in industry, will position the UK as a global leader in food engineering enabling our industry to be at the cutting-edge of new and emerging technologies.


Why are we doing this?

To achieve the food and drink industry's shared vision with Government to grow by 20% by 2020, we know that we need to attract the best talent. Engineering is one of the most vital specialisms required to increase automation and plant reliability in our industry. However, there is currently no university provision in the UK for food and drink engineering, meaning that new graduates require extensive training on the specific requirements of working in the food industry.


What we want to achieve

The MEng Food Engineering will develop the next generation of our industry's advanced engineers and leaders.

Our graduates will:

  • Fully understand the food supply chain
  • Be passionate champions of our industry
  • Have the technical expertise to design and develop new systems to meet future challenges
  • Transform UK food and drink manufacturing by increasing the use of robotics and automation
  • Have the business skills required to make the case for investment to drive productivity
  • Be specialists who can work with and lead others to develop concepts and make them happen
  • Be sophisticated engineers that other sectors look to with envy
  • Value their role and that of their colleagues as part of a team
  • Be the food industry leaders of tomorrow.


Who are we?

The Graduate Excellence partnership consists of the Food and Drink Federation, the National Skills Academy for food and drink and Sheffield Hallam University, where the degree will be delivered. The degree has also received co-investment from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills through the Employer Investment Fund.

However, fundamental to the success of Graduate Excellence is support from employers across our industry. We are calling on food and drink manufacturers to get involved with the project and support it in any way they can.


Who's already involved?

A number of leading food and drink manufacturers are already onboard.
View the full list of companies.


Get involved

There are many ways food and drink companies can get involved. Some of the options include:

  • Nominating specialist colleagues to participate in one of the Graduate Excellence development groups focusing on the degree's curriculum, marketing or human resources
  • Working with Sheffield Hallam University to recruit highcalibre people into the industry
  • Offering a bursary or scholarship
  • Providing a guest lecture to inspire potential team leaders of the future
  • Offering work placements as part of the degree
  • Agreeing to employ Graduate Excellence graduates (subject to final references and grades)
  • Working with suppliers to donate new or nearly new equipment for our Centre of Excellence in Food Engineering

Watch video: Richard Martin (Nestlé UK) talks about why businesses should get involved with Graduate Excellence

Graduate Excellence: Menu of options form

Fiona Kendrick, Chairman and CEO Nestlé UK & Ireland (FDF Competitiveness Steering Group Chair) said:

“At Nestlé, one of the biggest challenges we face is recruiting the best talent for our business. Our success depends on our ability to remain competitive and innovate however a lack of engineering and technical expertise will hold our industry back.

Graduate Excellence is a ground-breaking initiative which will equip graduates with the technical skills and commercial acumen our industry needs. It is an opportunity for food manufacturers to take control of their future and help shape a pipeline of talent. A number of companies, including Nestlé, have already committed their support in a range of ways but I urge companies of all sizes to get involved.”

Find out more

To pledge your support or to find out more please contact: [email protected] or call 020 7420 7107.


Follow our tweets

Follow us at @Foodanddrinkfed. If you want to catch up with our launch event tweets, then simply search Twitter by for the hash tag #foodengineering.


More Information

[1] Student exodus could leave university cities 'ghost towns' by 2020

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Last reviewed: 04 Apr 2014