Knowledge and skills legacy of Access to Masters (ATM) Scheme celebrated

A higher skills post-graduate scholarship programme led by Swansea University, in collaboration with partner HEIs across Wales, has marked the legacy of a six-year project duration spanning from 2009-2015.

ATM Pathways event 1The Access to Masters (ATM) Scheme, which was launched in March 2009 by First Minister Carwyn Jones, has supported and helped lead the transformation of the Welsh economy towards one based on knowledge, innovation, research and skills.

The project’s concluding Pathways to Higher Level Skills event took place last night (Wednesday, July 1), at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea.  [See a Flickr set here.]

‌Jane Hutt (pictured left), Minister for Finance and Government Business and Dr Paul Thomas, The Business Doctor, were the key speakers at the event to celebrate the pan-Wales scheme led by Swansea University’s College of Engineering, with Aberystwyth University, Bangor University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, University of South Wales, and the University of Wales Trinity St David.

‌‌The ATM scheme has received backing of £11.2M of EU funds through the Welsh Government, with further funding provided by the Welsh Universities and their private, public and third sector partners.‌‌

ATM Pathways event 2Over the last six years the ATM scheme has delivered a wide range of Taught Masters level courses which are linked to the Welsh Government’s key priority sectors by embedding summer research placements with local company partners.

‌Masters students were given the opportunity to apply their high level skills through a ‘real-life’ setting in key industry and business sectors based in the Valleys and North and West Wales – micro companies, SMEs, large companies, third and public sector organisations – enhancing their chances of gaining future employment.  

Among the ATM Scheme’s key achievements in the last six years are:

  • A total of 1,319 Masters students recruited to participate in the scheme, exceeding the target set, with over 90% of those enrolled achieving qualifications at NQF level 7-8 as a result of the ATM funding.
  • A total number of 758 companies and business partners helped through ATM.
  • 64% of the companies and business partners helped through ATM were SMEs; 12% from the third sector; 9% were micro companies/businesses; 5% were large businesses; and 10% were public sector.
  • 27% of the companies and business partners helped through ATM were based in the creative industries; 22% in the energy and environment sector; 18% in the life sciences sector; 15% in the ICT sector; 10% in the advanced materials and manufacturing sector; 5% in the financial and professional services sector; and 5% in tourism.
  • More than 200 of the companies and businesses helped were located in Gwynedd; more than 150 in Swansea; and more than 90 in Ceredigion.

Addressing the audience at the Pathways to Higher Level Skills event Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance and Government Business, said: “EU funds are making an invaluable contribution to supporting HE and FE institutions and businesses to increase higher level skills to drive a more innovative, competitive, and prosperous economy.

“Since 2007, EU projects have created 10,500 enterprises and 30,700 jobs, and helped 63,900 people into work and 196,900 to gain qualifications. Further EU funds, from which HE, FE and businesses will benefit, will help build on this success and are vital to creating growth and jobs.”

ATM Pathways event 4Professor Richard B Davies (pictured), Swansea University’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “The Access to Masters Programme has provided enhanced career opportunities for students and also brought this high level expertise to bear on the variety of challenges faced by companies.

“I am most impressed by the number of companies telling me how their experience with a Masters student encouraged them to engage more with universities to improve their processes and products.”

To find out more on the Access to Masters Scheme please visit the website at