University of Suffolk celebrates Independence Day at Ipswich Waterfront

An historical day in Ipswich as the University of Suffolk is officially launched.
L-R: vice chancel

An historical day in Ipswich as the University of Suffolk is officially launched. L-R: vice chancellor Richard Lister, professor Dave Muller, professor William Pope, Deborah Cadman, and Ben Gummer, Ipswich MP. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

The University of Suffolk officially declared independence today in a historical moment for Ipswich and the county.

In an exclusive interview in this newspaper today, vice chancellor Richard Lister had previously expressed his pride in the university becoming a fully-fledged, independent higher education institution.

Dozens of distinguished guests gathered at the Ipswich campus of the new fully-fledged university to mark the occasion. Schoolchildren were chosen to unveil a new large plaque, revealing the university’s new branding, to symbolise the future.

“It is one of the big days in Ipswich’s history,” said Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, who also gave a speech at the launch event.

“I don’t think we appreciate enough in Ipswich how respected the university is around the country. No other university in the last few years has gone up the university rankings as fast as this university (117th in 2012 to 97 for 2017 – The Guardian’s University League Table 2017).

“There is now the opportunity to establish a reputation for Ipswich as unique, innovative and cutting-edge, as well as capitalising on our history.”

The university was set up as University Campus Suffolk in 2007 under a partnership between the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the University of Essex.

But in May this year, following a three-year scrutinised application, it received approval to become an independent university and gained permission from the Privy Council to change its name.

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The new vice chancellor Richard Lister had previously told this newspaper how the change in status will provide a £30 million annual boost to the local economy as the university aims to almost double its cohort of students over the next five years from 4,5000 to around 7,000.

The curriculum will undergo a drive towards more science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses and there will be greater partnership with local companies, such as BT and Ipswich Hospital.

Mr Gummer added: “The university is on the site of the old Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies factory which used to export 80% of the goods it produced out of this dock to the rest of the world.

“The economy has changed in the last 100 years and increasingly we are going to be exporting knowledge. That will involve everyone in the town and this university will be exporting those ideas to that new knowledge-based economy.

“It will be the new Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies and provide wealth and sustainability of jobs and prospects that the old industries used to 50, 60, 70 years ago.

“And in searching for that new kind of economy, that new of thinking, that new way of creating jobs, prosperity and hope for everyone in the town, this university is absolutely central to that. That’s why it is such an important day. It is laying the foundation stone for the future.”

Deborah Cadman, chief executive of Suffolk County Council, said the university will now further “drive growth” in Suffolk. She added: “The university has shown drive and determination and will continue to allow local people to realise their potential.”

In 2015, 93% graduates went on to employment or further study. Graduates will receive University of Suffolk degrees from October 2017.

Mr Lister added: “It was great to see so many people turn out for the launch of the University of Suffolk.

“There is enormous pride in the county after achieving so much in such a short space of time. I feel very proud, very humbled and delighted.

“Everyone has been so positive. It is a day of celebration. People recognise this has been a long journey and they have all taken part. There has not been one dissenting voice.

“Let’s kick on now and give the town and county the economy it deserves.”

Meanwhile, the university’s unique caring culture will not be abandoned despite gaining its independent and launching plans to grow. That is according to Professor William Pope, chair of the board at the university.

He said: “We have got a USP here of being a very caring university. We are small but perfectly formed. We are not a big warehouse. Our motto is ‘names, not numbers’.

“We know the identity and persona of each student it is important that continues to grow, as well as our student numbers, research and the curriculum. We have a strong growth plan and exciting plans for the future.”