Black country

Wolverhampton armed forces degree launched

More than 200 college students have attended an event to launch a new university armed forces degree.

The University of Wolverhampton said it aimed to equip people for an armed forces career and combined academic study and practical experience.

Course leader Dr Martin Wright said the degree was set up for all ranks.

One former soldier, Salman Mirza, from the Stop the War Coalition, said the group had campaigned to keep the army out of universities and colleges.

'Brainy soldiers'

The university said the BSc (Hons) Armed Forces degree, starting in September, was understood to be the first course of its kind in the country.

A total of 240 college students on public services vocational courses from the Black Country, Shropshire and Staffordshire attended the event, which included talks and displays of military vehicles and equipment.

Dr Wright said: "You have to have brainy soldiers, brainy sailors, brainy airmen and brainy airwomen.

"The opportunity exists for individuals as graduates to apply to join as officers... but that's entirely a matter for them and the services to then select them. The degree is not set up just for officers."

Image caption The university said there were three courses available

He added the degree would build on programmes the university provides in policing and fire and rescue.

Asked about the number of working class people in Wolverhampton and armed forces recruitment, Dr Wright said: "There's no relationship between Wolverhampton, its location or the fact that it's an armed forces degree here...

"We were in discussion with the army over students on the policing degree wanting to join the Royal Military Police TA and those discussions then were spawned in terms of the armed forces degree."

The university said there were three courses available - BSc (Hons) Armed Forces, BSc (Hons) Armed Forces and Combat Medicine degree and the BSc (Hons) Armed Forces and Combat Engineering degree.

During three years of study students will serve as a member of the Royal Naval Reserve or Royal Marine Reserve, Territorial Army or RAF Reserve.

But campaigner Mr Mirza said: "Are they going to explain to them [students] that you're on your own when you leave? Are they going to explain to them that there's a high proportion of ex-soldiers who end up homeless?

"Are they going to explain to them that they have to rely on charities when they leave the army, because that's the terrible situation we have?"

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