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British inventor James Dyson opens up his own engineering college

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Offering free degrees to 25 students a year

Dyson

British inventor James Dyson has announced he’s opening a new college to train engineers in the UK. Set to open in the fall of 2017, the Dyson Institute of Technology will be based at the company's headquarters in Wiltshire, England. It will offer 25 students four-year engineering degrees each year, although these will be accredited by the University of Warwick. Students will not pay fees, but will instead receive a salary of up to £16,000 ($20,000). They will work alongside Dyson’s own engineers four days per week, with the fifth day spent in the classroom.

"We are taking matters into our own hands."

"The UK's skills shortage is holding Dyson back as we look to increase the amount of technology we develop and export from the UK," said the 69-year-old Dyson. "We are taking matters into our own hands. The new degree course offers academic theory, a real-world job and salary, and access to experts in their field."

Dyson has long complained about the lack of homegrown engineering talent in the UK, and said he was inspired to open the institute after a meeting with the country’s universities minister Jo Johnson. "[Jo] said, 'Well, why don't you do your own university?'" Dyson explained in an interview. "I thought that was a very good idea, so that's exactly what we're doing."

The new institute will form part of the expanding Dyson headquarters, with the company announcing a £250 million investment earlier this year with plans to double its number of engineers from 3,000 to 6,000 by 2020. Dyson himself was one of the few business leaders in the UK to support Brexit, and says the decision will allow the company to negotiate its own trade deals with the world, as well as pick the best immigrant talent from countries like India and China.

Dyson the company was founded in 1993, and although it has never achieved anywhere near the scale of American counterparts like Apple, it prides itself on its engineering and product design. The company’s revenues have doubled over the last four years as it continues to sell vacuum cleaners, hand dryers, and — most recently — hair dryers, but Dyson is looking to the future, spending £5 million a week on R&D, including robotics and battery tech. Dyson himself still owns 100 percent of the company and is estimated to be worth some £5 billion.