New talks about Suffolk University
FRESH talks are under way to set up a university in Suffolk, the EADT can reveal.The universities of Essex and East Anglia have confirmed they are in "early discussions" with Suffolk College about establishing a higher education (HE) campus in the county.
FRESH talks are under way to set up a university in Suffolk, the EADT can reveal.
The universities of Essex and East Anglia have confirmed they are in "early discussions" with Suffolk College about establishing a higher education (HE) campus in the county.
It is hoped the new university, which is likely to be based on Ipswich waterfront, will be ready to open within two years.
Last year, the University of East Anglia (UEA) revealed it was looking into the possibility of introducing a campus in Suffolk, but it has now emerged the University of Essex has joined the project.
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Talks between the interested parties, including local authorities, are said to be "moving very fast".
The new facility, believed to be under the name of the Combined University of Suffolk, would create thousands of new places for full-time HE students.
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In addition to the main campus in Ipswich, there are plans for three or four "satellite centres" across the county.
It is believed Suffolk College in Ipswich, will remain a further education (FE) college, although it could change its name as part of the new development.
Richard Lister, head of regional development at the University of Essex, confirmed it was in talks with the UEA and Suffolk College about "extending HE in Suffolk".
He added: "Discussions are at an early stage and it does depend on Government funding, but we are working together on some very attractive proposals for Suffolk. We hope to be able to say more next month.
"We have experience of doing something very similar in Southend, which now has substantial HE, having had none at all."
A spokesman for the UEA added: "We are working with the University of Essex, Suffolk College, local authorities and other key stakeholders to develop an innovative strategy for enriching and enhancing HE provision throughout Suffolk.
"The key priority will be to ensure appropriate funding for this potentially very exciting initiative."
Marilyn Watsham, assistant principal for further and adult education at Suffolk College, said: "We are in talks with the two universities and we welcome the ongoing discussions. We would like to stress there will still be a further education college in Ipswich if the plans go ahead, but whether it changes its name is part of the discussions."
Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council are also involved in the talks.
James Hehir, chief executive of Ipswich Borough Council, said: "This is great news for Suffolk. Everybody recognises the need for a university and it is our only missing link."
He added: "We are working together to make it happen and things are moving very fast. The new university will probably be ready within two years – maybe even quicker. It is important for business and for the growing population of Suffolk."
Mr Hehir said there was a "very strong possibility" the new campus would be based on Ipswich's regenerated waterfront and added the development would include "satellite centres" across the county.
Mike More, chief executive of Suffolk County Council, said: "This is a big opportunity to improve higher education in this county.
"The issue of university provision in Suffolk has been debated for a considerable period of time. We are working very hard to find a solution for the benefit of the whole of Suffolk, promoting a greater participation in HE."
Mr More said the university provision would incorporate rural parts of the county, and not just Ipswich.