£13m boost for new university plan

By Craig RobinsonA PLAN for a university in Suffolk has moved a major step closer after the county council pledged £13million to help finance the project.

By Craig Robinson

A PLAN for a university in Suffolk has moved a major step closer after the county council pledged £13million to help finance the project.

The extra funding will enable land purchases to develop learning centres across the county, as well improve facilities at Suffolk College and help in the creation of the university campus in Ipswich.

The money, which was pledged following a decision yesterday by the county council's executive committee, is in addition to the £50,000 that has already been contributed towards preparing the business case for funding.

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Bryony Rudkin, leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “This is the opportunity we have been waiting for - to develop a higher education base that will serve the whole of Suffolk for generations to come.

“This substantial contribution from the county council will help to make sure we have local learning centres and a central campus to make the university accessible to as many people as possible.”

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Peter Monk, deputy leader of Suffolk County Council, added: “A university campus and learning centres across the county will have many benefits for Suffolk residents and we are committed to working with our partners to see this succeed.

“We need to reverse the brain drain of talented people leaving our county and make sure we can capture the economic benefits for everyone of a university.”

The £160m development is on course to be ready by 2007, providing that the required financial support for the new buildings is forthcoming.

Under the proposal, the university and a new college would be built on Suffolk College's existing site in Rope Walk and also at various locations on the town's waterfront, along with student accommodation.

The college and university would run side by side, sharing facilities and services between them.

There would also be a number of satellite learning centres throughout the county, although at this time there are no definite plans of where they will be.

It is thought that the university would bring an immediate economic boost of about £50m a year to Suffolk.

The project is a joint venture between Essex University, the University of East Anglia, Suffolk College, the East of England Development Agency, Suffolk Learning and Skills Council, Suffolk Chief Executive's Group, Suffolk Development Agency, Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council.

This group, which is chaired by Suffolk County Council chief executive Mike More, has been responsible for driving the project forward and securing £245,000 from the Higher Education Funding Council for England development fund to produce a business case for the initiative.

The detailed business case will be presented to the funding council in December and it is expected it will meet to discuss the bid for funding in January 2005.


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