Shrewsbury university plans coming on at pace
A "huge amount" of progress has been made in the creation of Shrewsbury's first university, Shropshire Council leader Keith Barrow said today.
The university is expected to generate around £60 million for the county's economy each year once it reaches 2,000 students and turn Shrewsbury into the county's new seat of learning.
Now "rapid and significant" progress is being made in the creation of the new University Centre Shrewsbury, say those behind the scheme.
Buildings have been earmarked to house classrooms for the new university students and accommodation for staff too will be secured if latest plans are approved.
When up and running it is estimated that the new institution will bring a £60 million a year boost to Shropshire's economy.
The latest proposals on the project by Shropshire Council, its company ip&e and the University of Chester will go before next week's meeting of the full council.
The university is set to welcome its first postgraduate students this month, and its first undergraduates in September 2015.
Guildhall in Frankwell will be the main teaching site and fitting out will start on January 1 2015, the report recommends.
Some of the building is already empty but council staff, including customer services, would move out, possibly to The Tannery, and any wedding bookings would be honoured.
The former reference library on Castle Gates could, meanwhile, become the university's library.
As far as accommodation for students is concerned, options are still under consideration.
Frankwell and Abbey Foregate car parks have been ruled out as short-term options for new student halls to be built.
The report says that Frankwell requires problematic and costly flood-risk management work.
And with environmental issues at Abbey Foregate and an estimated 80-week build time, the site would not be ready by September 2015.
So work is under way to find existing buildings that could be converted to meet the 2015 deadline for first year accommodation.
The report asks councillors to agree that Shropshire Council's chief executive, in consultation with the leader, go out to procurement for accommodation.
The University Centre Shrewsbury name has been agreed with the Government and the undergraduate curriculum in the final stages of being authorised.
A website has been launched at www.ucshrewsbury.co.uk and the university is being promoted to prospective students.
Rowley's House would be the initial contact centre and the report recommends the building should be considered for teaching space and postgraduate courses.
Keith Barrow, leader of Shropshire Council, said: "Since full council last discussed the university plans in July, a huge amount of progress has been made in creating University Centre Shrewsbury.
"After careful consideration of the options, we now know the best options for teaching and living accommodation.
"We also now have a name, a list of courses, a website, and a lot of hard work is being carried out to promote the university to potential students and to have everything ready for our first undergraduates in September 2015.
"We estimate that the university will generate around £60m for the Shropshire economy each year once it grows to 2,000 students.
"But, just as importantly it will improve access to Higher Education for Shropshire-based students, raise the profile of Shropshire, and help to better meet the needs of businesses across the county and beyond."
University Centre Shrewsbury promises to be a "different" institution that focuses on courses geared for the reality of the workplace.
The new website set up for the university tells prospective students to: "Choose a different type of university."
It reads: "A university that is focussed on the reality of the workplace.
"A university that encourages its students to apply their learning in practical situations.
"Choose an innovative degree that has been designed with your employability at its core.
"A degree that addresses employers' skills needs through your academic excellence.
"Choose to become a different type of graduate."
Professor Tim Wheeler, vice-chancellor of the University of Chester, said: "We are working with Shropshire Council to create a high quality institution that offers pioneering choices for students and creates a wide range of social, cultural and economic benefits.
"The report outlines how areas such as the curriculum have taken shape, with the input of local businesses and others, and puts forward the best teaching, learning resource and residential accommodation options for students, staff, residents, businesses and our wider partners.
"Everyone's efforts and enthusiasm are ensuring that University Centre Shrewsbury will be a significant investment for the future of Shropshire."
Shropshire councillors will consider the university report when they meet next Thursday at 10am at Shirehall in Shrewsbury.
The full list of courses available are:
Bachelor of Science degrees are available in:
- Applied psychology
- Banking and finance
- Clinical science
- Digital retail management
- Environmental health
- Exercise and health
- Genetics and evolution;
- Marketing, innovation and technology
- Medical biochemistry
- Medical genetics
- Nutritional biochemistry
- Sport management
- Sustainable business development
Bachelor of Arts degrees are available in:
- Business studies
- English literature
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