Major boost for new university plan
By Danielle NuttallTHE bid for a state-of-the art university in Suffolk has received a major boost after it was given top-level backing.It was revealed last night the £160million scheme has won approval from the Government's Higher Education Funding Council.
By Danielle Nuttall
THE bid for a state-of-the art university in Suffolk has received a major boost after it was given top-level backing.
It was revealed last night the £160million scheme has won approval from the Government's Higher Education Funding Council.
James Hehir, chief executive of Ipswich Borough Council, said the project was now the second highest priority on the Government's list of new higher education colleges and looked like it was “going to happen”.
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He was speaking at a meeting of the council's executive committee, where councillors gave last night their support to the project, including recommending making land available to boost the development.
Mr Hehir said: “We are now just behind Cornwall on the national list, right at the top.
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“The Higher Education Funding Council has given approval in principle to this particular university for Suffolk scheme. They have supported it.
“It looks like it is going to happen. It will be the best thing that has happened to get this university for Suffolk and Ipswich.
“You have to bid nationally and the national board have met and given this real approval. There's stacks of work, but we've got the green light to develop the business plan.”
Ipswich Borough Council has outlined its role in the ambitious project, which would include the creation of an Education Quarter in the town.
Land covering more than 12 hectares, including the current Suffolk College site, has been earmarked for a “critical mass” of further education and higher education provision in the county.
The proposed site would include the soon-to-be redundant Suffolk County Council buildings and land bought by Ipswich Borough Council on the town's waterfront.
Essex and East Anglia Universities are at the forefront of talks on the project, which could open its doors in four years and provide the equivalent of 7,400 full-time higher education places in the long-term.
Council leader, Peter Gardiner, said: “The college is itself a landowner around the same area and all the logic says the university campus should develop in its existing site down to waterfront.
“When it comes to the funding, there needs to be considerable income from other sources. We are not cash rich, but if we have land coming into our ownership, then we obviously could offer that as part of the package.
“It's the least we could do as a sensible way forward. We have always been in a stop-start situation as far as a university for Suffolk. Things are looking positive.”