14/04/2014 - Permalink

University for Shropshire plans gain momentum

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Plans are progressing to develop a new university for Shropshire as partners look at the best ways to create a Higher Education Institution that will provide unprecedented opportunities for students and the county.

The University of Chester has worked with Shropshire Council and ip&e, the Shropshire Council owned company, to develop a compelling vision for a university for Shropshire.

The institution will be created through support and guidance from the University of Chester in its early days, but it will, in time, seek its own self-governing status and ultimately become a free-standing university.

Shropshire Council and the University of Chester have held an extremely constructive planning event (early April 2014) to discuss a variety of practical elements relating to the establishment of the university.

The first meeting of the project’s Advisory Board has also taken place, with members including prominent members of the community.

Keith Barrow, Leader of Shropshire Council, said:

“It’s great to see these exciting plans progressing. What came through foremost at this week’s planning event was the enthusiasm and commitment from everyone working together on the development of this new Higher Education Institution for Shropshire.

“Our vision is for a university for Shropshire, with a high-quality research, teaching and learning environment, enabling us to retain talent in Shropshire, that will act as a catalyst for economic growth.”

Keith added that as the business case develops, partners were progressing and evaluating options for several sites in the Shrewsbury town centre area with accessible buildings and facilities, which would incorporate an ‘Education Quarter,’ including the council-owned Rowley’s House and Tannery building, to provide the range of functions required by students.

He said:

“This is a significant investment for the future of Shropshire and over the next few months there will be a lot of activity to look at all the options available to create an exceptional Higher Education Institution that will be highly differentiated nationally and internationally, with an identity reflecting the values and ambitions of Shropshire.”

Professor Tim Wheeler, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chester, added:

“This forward-thinking collaborative project has been highlighted by David Willetts, the Universities Minister, as an example of best practice for areas where higher education provision could be expanded.

“The curriculum will complement what is currently provided in Shropshire, will be linked to key industrial and commercial sectors in the county, and will equip graduates with the skills to succeed in the workplace of the future, whatever career path they follow, by stimulating and inspiring entrepreneurial behaviour.”

Shropshire Council last year exchanged the freehold for the Wakeman School site in Shrewsbury for the freehold title of the former Shrewsbury Sixth Form College’s Study Centre on St Austin’s Street (the Tannery) and part of the adjacent Tannery car park.