Dozens of food and drink businesses have pledged practical support for students studying for the UK’s first food engineering degree.

The Masters engineering degree is being taught at Sheffield Hallam University and was developed alongside the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink.

To date, 41 businesses, – including Warburtons, Burtons Biscuits, Nestlé UK, United Biscuits and Premier Foods – have offered support including paid placements worth £15k to £17k pro rata, 12-week and 30-week undergraduate placements, employment opportunities subject to final grades, and guest lectures.

The first students will start their studies this September and Academy chief executive Justine Fosh said industry support meant every student would be guaranteed a choice of paid work placements.

“The unprecedented level of industry backing for the new Masters degree underlines the intense competition for graduate-level engineering talent among all business sectors,” said Fosh. “Thanks to food industry collaboration, the new degree will offer a reliable recruitment pipeline of employment-ready engineers steeped in the unique needs of food and drink manufacturing.”

In a further boost to the four-year course’s attraction, the Higher Education Funding Council for England recently announced a £6.9m funding package for a National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering at Sheffield Hallam, which will act as a state-of-the-art hub for industry innovation and R&D.

“Coupled with the ability to earn-while-you-learn, generous bursary opportunities, and access to world-class facilities, food and drink engineering at Sheffield Hallam University represents a superb study choice for talented young people with the drive and ambition the industry needs,” added Fosh.