Uni set for �250m revamp

STUDENTS and staff at Essex University are celebrating after a major �250million investment programme was announced.

James Hore

STUDENTS and staff at Essex University are celebrating after a major �250million investment programme was announced.

The capital investment plan will see the money spent during the next five to seven years with a new �25million student centre on the cards for the Colchester campus.

The improvements will cover all aspects of campus life at the university which was recently placed in the top 10 in the UK for its research.

The plan will be underpinned by a �100million loan although some of the 30 different projects, of which half are already in progress or at the preliminary stage, will need external funding.

Students are set to benefit from a series of changes designed to rejuvenate the campus which first opened its doors to 122 students in 1964.

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Sport facilities will be improved with a �1 million fitness centre extension along with upgrades to catering services.

There will also be a phased development of new student residences along with refurbishment to the original campus including new signage, improvements to the central squares around which the university is designed and cleaning of the concrete buildings.

Research facilities will be developed along with investment in IT infrastructure designed to give faster and more effective communications between the three campuses in Colchester, Southend and Loughton.

New arts facilities will include an enhanced entrance, foyer, box office, bar and caf� for the Lakeside Theatre, costing more than �800,000.

Professor Colin Riordan, vice-chancellor said: “Essex's position as one of the UK's leading universities has been confirmed recently with our top-ten ranking for research quality and our priority now is to invest in first-class student facilities which will help us to attract the brightest and best and enable the university to grow and flourish.

“As we approach our 50th anniversary we need to continue to improve and develop the original campus to provide a sustainable environment with modern state-of-the-art facilities that enhance the learning and life experience of today's students and staff.”

It is hoped the investment plan will provide help meet current and future needs.

Along with the �100m loan, capital funding will also be in the form of grants from the Higher Education Funding Council for England and other agencies.

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