University is 'stemming the brain drain'

SUFFOLK'S university is helping to stem the “brain drain” with a rise of nearly 5% in new applications - of which more than half are local students.

Lizzie Parry

SUFFOLK'S university is helping to stem the “brain drain” with a rise of nearly 5% in new applications - of which more than half are local students.

Business and education leaders said more people were opting to further their education or re-train close to home.

They hope this means the long-standing “brain drain” problem - the loss of skilled young people from the county due to a lack of opportunities - is in reverse.

The rising popularity of University Campus Suffolk (UCS) could partly be due to people belt-tightening in the economic downturn and opting not to leave the county for Higher Education, they added.

There are expected to be about 4,000 students enrolling at University Campus Suffolk (UCS) sites in 2009-10, a rise from 3,346 full-timers this year - and so far 52% of applications have been from local people.

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Richard Lister, director of planning and resources, said the news was a step in the right direction for university which recently announced plans to extend its Ipswich campus on the waterfront.

“We are very pleased that interest in UCS continues to grow,” he said.

“It is still early days for our application pattern, but in the first two years of our existence, the number of students that enrolled with us grew by 10%.

“I'm confident that we are on course for that level of achievement (a 10% rise over two years) this year.”

The UCAS deadline for applications passed on January 15, and more applications are still expected.

The university, which opened in August 2007, is based at Ipswich, but has a “learning network” that takes in sites at Bury St Edmunds, Otley, Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

Bob Anderson, chief executive and pro-vice chancellor of UCS, said it remained a priority to encourage as many people from the local area as possible into studying at UCS.

“We have ambitious plans to grow not just in Ipswich, but across Suffolk and at Great Yarmouth,” he said.

“This will enable us to fulfil our mission of giving the best opportunities to students locally, widening access to higher education and ensuring we do not lose the brightest of our young people to other parts of the country.”

Among the popular courses receiving the most applications are vocational courses such as midwifery, nursing, business courses, early childhood studies, social work and computer games design.

Dorothy Kennerley, executive dean of the faculty of health wellbeing and science, said: “We are delighted to welcome all the new students to Nursing and Midwifery courses, both of which started on Monday.

“We had exceptionally high applications across the whole of Suffolk and Great Yarmouth, with September starting courses in Social work, Radiography, Science and Nursing already filling up.

“However, places are still available and can be applied for via the UCS website.

“These are all very strongly work focused courses and, in times of recession, applicants are looking for courses which provide them with employability on completion.”