Ipswich: Is UCS a university or not? University seeks independence from UEA - and could be renamed University of Suffolk in bid to attract more students

Richard Lister of UCS.

Richard Lister of UCS. - Credit: Archant

Sponsors of University Campus Suffolk are helping it move towards independence – but there is still some way to go.

That’s the message today from provost and chief executive Richard Lister after one of its main sponsors, the Norwich-based University of East Anglia, backed the move.

In a report to its governing council, the UEA said it supported the aspiration of UCS to get its independence which would allow it to market itself on the world academic market as a stand-alone university.

The UEA report says: “The main marketing problem is prospective students are uncertain as to the status of UCS – essentially, is it a university or not?”

Mr Lister said the important point for UCS was the ability to validate its own degrees. There was a long process to go through before this could happen.

The application by UCS had got over the first hurdle set by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and the Privy Council – but there would now be a close examination of its courses and exams by the QAA over a year.

The earliest UCS could be allowed to validate its own degrees would be end of next year – after that it would be able to apply for full university status.

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If it did get full university status, it would then have to decide on a new name – but Mr Lister said it was too early to talk about that.

However the UEA minutes suggest that “University of Suffolk” would be the probable name – reflecting the fact that courses are run at Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft as well as Ipswich (there are also a few courses run by UCS in Great Yarmouth just over the Norfolk border).

Mr Lister hoped things would continue to run smoothly: “Both UEA and Essex University have been very supportive to us but it is not a quick process.”

The foundation of UCS as a Suffolk-based campus sponsored by two well-established universities was an innovative way of increasing the number of degree courses available in the county and helped secure the investment that allowed the building of the first university buildings on the Waterfront.

However as UCS has started to establish its own fine reputation in many subjects, the need to gain independence has become more clear.