Gallery: Suffolk's university officially opens

THE doors have finally opened for the first day of teaching at University Campus Suffolk (UCS).

Craig Robinson

THE doors have finally opened for the first day of teaching at University Campus Suffolk (UCS).

Hundreds of students flocked to the waterfront in Ipswich yesterday for the start of lectures and seminars.

Although induction sessions were held in the multi-million pound landmark building last week, yesterday was its official opening.


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Around 3,000 students were expected to be on campus - studying a range of subjects including health, well-being and science, arts, business and social science.

While some lectures will still be held over the road at Suffolk New College most will be conducted in the £25million state of the art building.

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Emma Bland, Rachael Bradley, Natalie Gibbs and Leanne Perkins, all 18, were among the very first to be taught in the new lecture theatres.

The former West Suffolk College students, from Bury St Edmunds, are on a three year course for early childhood studies.

Emma said: “We chose UCS because it was close to us - we're all still living at home so it's a lot cheaper. I like the fact that it's all new, it's a very impressive building.

“We had our inductions last week and today was the first day of teaching.”

Natalie added: “The course is also very good and offers everything that we want. It goes into things in a lot more depth than other universities that we looked at.”

Rachael said: “We also know our way around Ipswich quite well so it's easier. Some of us are hoping to go onto teaching training when we're finished.”

Eileen Ellis, 54, a third year psychology and sociology student from Ipswich, was relaxing in the third floor café with Claire Hyde, 29, from Hadleigh, who is studying psychology and early childhood.

“The resources are fantastic,” she said. “We've just had our first lecture and are due back in a few moments. The rooms are very comfy and it's easy to see what's on the board.

“They are very spacious and extremely airy - they're very good. All the technology is working. They said the rooms were going to be ready and they are.”

Claire added: “There is a lot more atmosphere now. Its better being distanced from the college students - it's a bit more of an adult learning environment. It now feels like a university rather than a further education college.”

Howard Smith, 23, from Martlesham, is president of the Student's Union and is in the third year of a business management with marketing course.

He said: “I spent my first year at Essex University but decided to move back when I heard about the opportunity of UCS coming on line.

“I'm very impressed with the whole development - its state of the art for the 21st century and hopefully it will be a taste of things to come.

“During freshers week the atmosphere was electric. It was good to see so many students about, taking advantage of the facilities that Ipswich and UCS has to offer.”

The waterfront building has room for 1,300 students at any one time and is 10,500 square metres.

The campus will be home to the faculties of health, well-being and science, arts, business and social science, as well as the Student Union-run café.

The ground floor will contain two lecture theatres - holding 140 students each - while nine more theatres will seat a further 600.

The main campus will link up with colleges in Bury St Edmunds, Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and Otley as well as smaller learning centres in Stowmarket, Halesworth, Mildenhall and Haverhill.

Neil Jackson, director of estates at UCS, was responsible for ensuring the new building finished on time and on budget.

He said: “We've had a really busy couple of days and it's been a good test to see if the building can cope with the influx of people - which it has. I'm extremely pleased with the finish. Buildings of this nature take a team effort and I'm very grateful to everyone that made it possible. Everyone involved is proud to be part of such a landmark building.

“This is very much a front door for students and visitors - most of the ground floor is accessible to the public. Any student who comes to UCS will spend some time on the waterfront because all subjects use the general space.”

Mr Jackson said the next step was to get phase two of the development underway - which will see 600-rooms of student accommodation and a new academic facility built on Orwell Quay by 2010.

“The focus will be on more specialist teaching around health and sciences,” he said. “We're also hoping to move the Student's Union onto the quayside at that time and link that with the new accommodation so there's a little community.”

He said the third phase - which is likely to be ready by 2012/13 - would be the redevelopment of the Suffolk New College campus.

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