The Suffolk College Nuclear Sciences Department
a national training success
In 1967 the UK began to develop a civil nuclear power programme based on the Magnox design of nuclear reactors. The senior health & safety manager at Sizewell A power station, Bernard Willcox, approached the Ipswich Civic College, later to become the Suffolk College, to develop and teach two City and Guilds Radiation Safety Practice Courses: Stages I & II.
The syllabus was written and examinations set and marked by industry radiation safety professionals including Bob Gardiner at CEGB Berkeley, John Clifton at AEA Winfrith and Bernard James at the MOD. The courses were eight weeks long comprising two four-week blocks culminating in a three-hour written examination and a 40 minute oral practical examination. Over thirty practical exercises were developed. The courses became the industry standard for those working as health physics monitors, surveyors and supervisors in nuclear power plants (including the later generation of AGR reactors), nuclear research establishments like Harwell, Windscale and Dounreay, and nuclear submarine dockyards like Rosyth, Devonport and Chatham. Students attended from all over the UK. Ipswich's hotels and pubs benefited too! Technicians from other areas of industry, the inspectors, and medical fields also attended the courses in order to take a formal, internationally recognised course in radiation protection. After the accident at Chernobyl the British Council placed the Deputy Director of Nuclear Safety for the Republic of Byelorussia on a City and Guilds Radiation Safety Practice Course.
The facilities at the Suffolk College, named the Nuclear Sciences Department, occupied the whole of one side on the third floor of the main building on the former Rope Walk site. Specialist contamination suite laboratories with industry standard instruments and sources, including two medical X-ray sets were installed. Glove boxes, fume cupboards and specialist detectors were purchased and over the thirty-three years until the department closed in 2000, industry-trained graduate lecturers were employed - and then went back to industry after their time in Ipswich.
With the cutbacks in the nuclear industry, Suffolk College stopped running the course. However, other UK centres still offer the course to approximately 100 students a year. This is but one example of Ipswich providing training to a national standard to a cohort of students from all over the UK.
I am sure there are other examples.