Suffolk university to be ready by 2007

BOSSES behind plans for Suffolk's first university insisted last night that the multi million pound development was still on course to be ready by 2007.

BOSSES behind plans for Suffolk's first university insisted last night that the multi million pound development was still on course to be ready by 2007.

Project leaders from the University of East Anglia and Suffolk College told local councillors that, if they received the required financial support, the new buildings could be operational in three years time.

They also urged representatives from Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council to seize the opportunity to develop a university before it slipped away.

Brian Summer, registrar of the University of East Anglia, said: “We now have a great opportunity to push forward this development, we need to seize the moment and seize it now before it passes us by. Everything is in place to make it work.

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“We have submitted an outline business plan to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) which should be considered some time this month.

“I can't predict what they will say but I have heard nothing but enthusiasm and support for this project from them.

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“If everything goes well and we get the capital funding that we are looking for then I expect to see the buildings opening around 2007.”

Jim Hehir, chief executive of Ipswich Borough Council, added: “This is something we have wanted for many years.

“Everyone is working together in the same direction, a window is now open and we have to get through that window.

“It really is a fantastic opportunity for the area.”

The £160million project is a joint venture between the University of Essex in Colchester, the Norwich based University of East Anglia, Suffolk College, the East of England Development Agency, Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council.

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

There would also be a number of local learning centres spread throughout the county.

Dr Peter Funnell, assistant principal and head of learning development at Suffolk College, said: “This is one of the most inventive and innovative developments in the country.

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

“The level of participation in higher education in the county is low by national standards and this project will offer a fantastic opportunity for learners who want to continue past compulsory education age.”

And Mr Summer added: “This is a cutting edge proposal which will bring general economic benefits to Ipswich and Suffolk, as well as a landmark university.

“Traditionally it is very unusual to get two competing universities, such as UEA and Essex working together, and therefore it excites the funding bodies.”

A report on financing the University of Suffolk is due to go before the executive committee of Suffolk County Council on December 7.

District councils will be asked to consider the proposals later this week.

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