MK:U takes on its first apprentices

MK:U, the new higher education institution in Milton Keynes, celebrated a milestone last week, with the start of its first ever degree apprenticeship course. Welcoming the pioneer cohort of Santander management apprentices, Nathan Bostock, CEO of Santander UK, described how Santander and MK:U have collaborated to produce an innovative approach to education that will make a substantial contribution to new technology skills development for the Oxford Cambridge Arc and the wider UK.

He then officially opened MK:U’s temporary home at the newly refurbished Bouverie House, in the city centre, just five minutes’ walk from Central Milton Keynes station and close to Santander’s £150m new headquarters at Unity Place in Milton Keynes.

Backed by Cranfield University and Milton Keynes Council, with support from Santander and from SEMLEP through the Local Growth Fund, MK:U will address urgent technological and skills gaps in the UK economy. The vision for the new, ground-breaking university is one that is hands-on, designed with – and for- business, and focused on a digital economy curriculum specifically addressing the employment needs of organisations in the 21st century.

MK:U’s first cohort of Level 6 degree apprentices are existing Santander employees studying for their Chartered Manager Apprenticeship. Future cohorts from employers in the region will study digital technology, data science, and cyber security, creating new jobs for school and college leavers and helping existing employees develop new skills.  Learners will be offered exceptional flexibility to attend in person at the state-of-the-art facility in Bouverie House; to join online; or to catch up later, supported throughout by learning specialists, an expert apprenticeship team and excellent learning technology.

Nathan Bostock, Chief Executive Officer, Santander UK, commented: “Santander was drawn to partner with MK:U because of its focus on applied, business-relevant education specialising in the digital and data skills businesses need to succeed.   As we move our UK headquarters  to Milton Keynes, we are committed to investing in our people, developing and growing our talented workforce of the future.”

Professor Lynette Ryals OBE, Chief Executive of MK:U, said: “We are delighted to welcome our first Santander apprentices. MK:U offers innovative, exciting, business-relevant education. We believe our approach of learning, based on real business and societal issues, is the future for higher education.”

MK:U will be launching an Innovation Hub in 2022, including a small business scale-up programme and a high-technology makerspace alongside a UK-leading Advanced Communications Laboratory. Employers, would-be apprentices and entrepreneurs can find out more about these opportunities at

Plans for the realisation of MK:U’s permanent home continue to be developed by Cranfield University, Milton Keynes Council and its business supporters who are all encouraging the government to support MK:U. 

Notes for editors

Businesses able to use the Apprenticeship Levy to recruit / upskill employees, including those who might not have considered university education until now.

The proposed university led by Cranfield University and Milton Keynes Council has the support of over 110 businesses including Grant Thornton, Network Rail, and McAfee.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.