Fugro's Andrew McNeill (second from left) and Dr Richard Thain (second from right) receive the award from comedian Jack Dee (first left)

The Hydrographic Academy and the University of Plymouth scooped the Outstanding Employer Engagement Initiative at the annual Times Higher Education Awards – the higher education sector’s equivalent to the Oscars.


Dr Richard Thain, Director of the Academy and Chief Executive of Marine Learning Alliance, and Andrew McNeill, Global Talent Development Manager at Fugro N.V., received the award from guest host Jack Dee at the gala event at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane.

Now in their tenth year, the Times Higher Education Awards External URL are a highlight of the academic calendar, shining a spotlight on the outstanding achievements of institutions, teams and individuals in the UK higher education sector. The Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, Greg Clark, was also a guest speaker.

Established in 2012, the Hydrographic Academy has worked with Fugro to develop a training and educational solution for all employers and individuals in the offshore industry wishing to enhance their skills and qualifications.

More than 430 students have enrolled in the first two years from 38 countries, and they have access to our high-quality e-learning materials, designed specifically to deliver the best teaching and learning experience even when studying offline during offshore deployments. Academic tutors support all students via Skype or telephone, and that’s supplemented by intensive residential sessions during shore-leave.


“It’s about meeting the needs of professional mariners, regardless of their location, and providing opportunities for career development and lifelong learning,” said Dr Richard Thain. “We’ve worked closely with Fugro, who’ve taken it forward on behalf of the industry, and we’re now looking to develop new programmes for the marine sector and look at other distance-learning opportunities.”


This is the first time the University of Plymouth has won a Times Higher Education award and Professor David Coslett, the University of Plymouth's Interim Chief Executive, praised the Hydrographic Academy for it's outstanding achievement:


“For more than 150 years, our University has proudly served the marine and maritime community: it’s an intrinsic part of who we are. And while we have grown and developed into a modern and vibrant university with expertise across the academic spectrum, this award is testament to both that heritage and our innovative approach, working in partnership with others to open up new pathways into education.”


In November of this year the Academy expanded to become a subsidiary of the IMarEST, the international professional body and learned society for all marine professionals and the largest marine organisation of its kind.

The Academy is now trading as the Marine Learning Alliance at Plymouth's Science Park, and remains an Academic Partner of the University, who continue to accredit its programmes and provide full academic quality control and oversight.

If you wish to study with us, or would like to discuss corporate training and education solutions for the maritime sector, then please see our Contacts page.