University is stemming the 'brain drain'

SUFFOLK'S new university is successfully stemming the brain drain of talent from the county - with nearly 5,000 students set to study there from September.

Anthony Bond

SUFFOLK'S new university is successfully stemming the brain drain of talent from the county - with nearly 5,000 students set to study there from September.

Many of those signed up on courses for the next academic year are from Suffolk, as well as Norfolk and Essex, and student numbers have grown by an estimated 500 since it opened last year.

Education chiefs and business leaders had previously voiced concerns at figures which showed that many young people left the county for higher education and never returned.

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This, they feared, was draining Suffolk of some of its most talented and skilled young people.

But news that University Campus Suffolk was attracting students from Suffolk as well as neighbouring counties was welcomed last night.

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Richard Lister, director of planning and resources at the university, told the EADT: “The level of enquiries that we had on Thursday (A-level results day) was well ahead from last year and there is more interest from people ringing.

“I would say the majority of students that we have applying are from Suffolk and Norfolk and the northern half of Essex and eastern Cambridgeshire.

“The majority are regional but we are also attracting people from all over the place including international students.”

Mr Lister added that the university expects its total number of students to be around 4,610 in September, compared to 4,100 the same time last year.

The news comes as a boost to some of the county's major employers, who have long called for greater higher education opportunities in Suffolk.

Phil Dance, senior manager at BT's Adastral Park research centre in Martlesham Heath, said: “It is really great news to hear that there is an influx of people applying to attend the new University Campus Suffolk.

“It is really important for BT to be part of a sustainable economy that allows our future generations being born in Suffolk, to be educated in Suffolk, and to ultimately be given the option of choosing a career in Suffolk.”

James Hehir, chief executive at Ipswich Borough Council said: “This is fantastic news because Suffolk in particular has had a deficit in higher education and lots of people have gone away.

“We are now reversing the brain drain which is fantastic and the more successful the university becomes the more people from all over the country as well as international students will come here and stay in the area. It is probably the most exciting thing that has happened in Ipswich and Suffolk in a lifetime.”

In September staff and students will begin moving into the university's landmark building on Ipswich's Waterfront and Mr Lister said everything was expected to open on time.

“It is a major job but we are on course and expecting to be handed over the building in the time scale that we envisaged and we expect to be moving people in by the middle of September.

“I think the new building is a physical symbol that Suffolk has a university and it is a university which looks different and will be different and one that will put us right at the cutting edge of higher education development

“It shows that everything we said that we were going to do over the years is coming together.”

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