Children of the 80s

We are now just 43 weeks away from the launch of University Campus Suffolk, and these weeks will disappear very quickly as the momentum gathers. For those of us who have worked on UCS for a long time it is now beginning to change from something abstract into something real.

We are now just 43 weeks away from the launch of University Campus Suffolk, and these weeks will disappear very quickly as the momentum gathers.

For those of us who have worked on UCS for a long time it is now beginning to change from something abstract into something real. Something as large as this obviously needs a great deal of forward planning and infrastructure development before it can actually begin to function. This is certainly true of a project as complex as this which pulls together two existing universities and five further education colleges and which has to operate as a successful single entity. So after months and years of planning on paper it's now important that we keep in the forefront of our minds that very soon we will be a live organisation with large numbers of staff, students and all the range of activity associated with a major university.

Our focus has been improved by the appointment of Polly Bridgman as our head of marketing who worked on the Millennium Dome and who is therefore fully aware of working on a project with an absolute deadline.

Just as the millennium could not be put back in the event of any delay, we can not let our deadline slip as we approach our first academic year.

One of the things that keeps us focused particularly on the fast approaching start of UCS is that we are now receiving real applications from students wanting to start with us in September next year. Students apply for university places almost a year before they are due to start their university careers and many months usually before they take their final school or college examinations. It really does make it obvious that we are working now in a live university being surrounded by UCAS forms and making judgements about individual students and their suitability for particular degree courses.

We are selecting for UCS as a whole, not just for those courses offered here in Ipswich but across Suffolk and in Great Yarmouth. It is usually an up lifting experience reading university application forms. All the applicants have made a positive decision about going to university which is for most people, a life changing experience. The forms themselves are often a tribute to the enthusiasm and drive of the students and represent an interesting snapshot of an individual at a particular point in their lives. Having been responsible for admissions in a number of universities for 25 years it is becoming increasingly common for me to meet someone at the top of their profession or certainly heading towards it, and be able to point out to them that I would have read their youthful application to university and indeed signed the letter of admission that started their university career.

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Being involved in admissions for so long means that I am constantly surprised by the youthfulness of the applicants, for example many of those that we are assessing at the moment were born in 1989!

For these students Margaret Thatcher would be a figure in history rather then what seems to me to be a recent event. This constant turnover is one reason universities constantly refresh and renew their curriculum and services to continue to attract the best students

Of course university is not wholly about young students many of our applicants are in their 20s and 30s and beyond.

The oldest graduate I remember meeting personally was in their early 70s.

It would be good to believe that somewhere out there, there is a reader of The Evening Star who is determined to break that record. If so I can assure them and everyone else that applies to us that we will deal with their application as carefully and as fairly as we can - after all being accepted at university will usually change your life.

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