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Student wearing VR goggles

Reality cheque: University of Brighton students to benefit from £1.7m cyber learning boost

Our students will be able to develop real-world skills without leaving campus thanks to cutting edge new simulation technology.

The way students receive hands-on training and work experience will be transformed thanks to investment in new virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and extended reality (XR) learning facilities totalling £1.695m.

The state-of-the-art technologies will allow our students and apprentices to develop practical skills to bring to real-world environments – from pharmacies and physiotherapy suites to production lines and factory floors.

The new facilities will help us respond to unprecedented growth in demand for places on health and medical-related courses since the start of the pandemic. Applications for courses including nursing, midwifery, medicine, pharmacy and physiotherapy increased by almost a third in 2021-22 compared with the previous year. We’re working with local NHS partners to ensure our students develop their skills and experience in clinical settings and with the support of innovative simulation technology.

two students with a mannequin

New technology on offer to our students will include a 3D simulated medical ward with hospital beds and hi-tech, lifelike mannequins that offer a fully immersive and realistic experience of a wide range of patient scenarios. The mannequins include full articulation for realistic patient handling, as well as drug recognition systems that respond realistically to different medications, allowing students to develop their skills and learn from any mistakes in a safe environment.

University of Brighton Vice-Chancellor, Professor Debra Humphris, said: “One of the reasons why Brighton graduates are so highly employable is our strong emphasis on hands-on, practical learning. We know that’s something that our students really value and it’s clear that employers do too.

“We’re constantly looking for innovative and exciting ways to open up new opportunities for our students to develop and learn. It’s fantastic that we’re able to use this funding to bring the latest technological advances into our classrooms and labs in meaningful, compelling and highly effective ways.”

In addition to healthcare, the new VR, AR and XR technology will also be used by students in the University’s School of Architecture, Technology and Engineering, where applications for places are up by more than a quarter compared with 2020-21. Student numbers are also set to grow in the next five years with the introduction of new subject areas, new pathways for apprenticeships, the introduction of Higher Technical Qualifications and more postgraduate courses with professional and research placements.

Existing simulation facilities will be upgraded to enable students to visualise and manipulate complex geometry and Big Data, simulate and work with a range of buildings and utilities, and ensure that the University and its students are able to continually evolve to meet the needs of fast-evolving technical industries.

Some of the new applications will also be available remotely, making it easier for students to take part in immersive, advanced interactive learning where access is sometimes difficult, for example hospitals.  The simulation suites will also provide new and exciting opportunities to work virtually with students and staff at partner institutions in the UK, Europe, USA, China and the Middle East.

Universities regulator the Office for Students (OfS) has awarded the £1.7m funding to the University through its capital grant scheme, which supports sustainable investment in higher education learning and teaching facilities.

In addition to the OfS funding, the NHS is providing £100,000 to support development of the University’s new Radiography course. An advanced technology radiography suite will use software simulation to replicate fully operational radiography machines, avoiding the need to use radioactive materials on campus or install expensive lead lining in the walls.

Our new three-year Diagnostic Radiography BSc course starts in September 2022 with an initial 50 places on offer at our Falmer campus.

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Kerry Burnett • December 17, 2021


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