Suffolk New College shows itself off

STUDENTS are today ready to learn at Suffolk New College. The Oasis Caf� inside the impressive atrium is bustling and college staff are in the lecture rooms getting ready for the beginning of term.

STUDENTS are ready to learn at Suffolk New College.

The Oasis Caf� inside the impressive atrium is bustling and college staff are in the lecture rooms ready for the beginning of term.

And outside workmen are busy putting the finishing touches to the building's Suffolk New College sign.

As she shows off the new building Mary Gleave, Suffolk New College associate principal, is delighted with the buzz already evident inside Ipswich's newest landmark building.

She said: “The building was started in January 2008 and has cost �40million, part of a �70million development project for the college. “We took occupation at the end of July and we are now in the process of student enrolment and induction.

“It is very exciting and it is great to see the building with students inside. It is a big building and it doesn't come to life until the students are here.

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“They are at the heart of the college.”

As you walk in you are met by the huge atrium. Two storeys in height, light and a focal point of the building, the atrium is home to not only The Oasis Caf� but also The Granary and the college's Learning Curve.

Mary said: “The Granary will be run by students and will open later this month. The Learning Curve is the college's learning resource. Inside the Learning Curve we have 60 new computers, internet access and study support facilities.

“We have prioritised a lot of the money into places the students will be occupying.”

Covering 22,000 square metres and with two buildings - North and South - linked by a second floor walkway, Suffolk New College is a purpose built facility which initially will be used by 2,500 students with room to expand.

Mary starts the tour on the ground floor with the creative arts and media department.

New facilities here include:

A film theatre

A radio studio

Dance studios

A television studio

A 60 seat performance theatre which converts into an 80 seat lecture theatre.

Upstairs - and each stairwell is colour coded to help students navigate the building - on the first floor is one of the new building's most impressive highlights - Shelley's Restaurant and McCoy's Bar.

Both will be used as training venues for students as well as offering the public lunchtime and evening dining experience.

Mary said: “The restaurant and bar will be opening later this month with seating for 100 people. We have engaged interior designers to create a fantastic facility for the students. Students will provide the food and serve the public.”

And just off the restaurant are three catering kitchens complete with new equipment waiting to be used by students.

For budding hairdressers and beauty therapists the new college building has some amazing new rooms dedicated to their subject.

Three hair dressing salons will be open to the public as well as a nail salon, beauty rooms and stunning spa area which includes a monsoon shower, foot spas, steam room, sauna and aromatherapy treatment areas.

Mary said: “The spa and salons will be called The Zone and will be accessible for the public from College Square. Members of the public will be able to have their hair done and a full range of beauty treatments before dining in the restaurant.

“This is one of the few colleges in the area with spa facilities.”

The second floor is home to further lecture rooms, staff rooms and offices.

Mary said: “We have introduced open plan seating in the corporate hub.”

Looking out of the windows students will be able to see the scaffolding clad old college tower block opened nearly 50 years ago.

Mary said: “Demolition contractors have already been appointed and the tower block should be down by April next year. On the site we are applying for planning permission to install a sports hall and sports pitches which will be used for teaching as well as student recreation and community use, which will make up phase two of the project.”

Across the second floor walkway which links the north and south building and the facilities change again.

Mary said the south building is home to course such as ICT, construction, brickwork, woodwork, painting and decorating and vehicle maintenance.

And again the facilities are impressive and right up to date.

Mary said: “The public will be able to service and MOT their vehicles as well as bring them in for body repair. We have a motorcycle workshop which we installed during the building process. It has proved extremely popular.”

Outside landscaping is still taking place and is due to be finished by September 21.

Mary said: “Our application numbers are already up and we are really optimistic about the future. I would love to be a student in this building.”

Are you a student at Suffolk New College? Let us know what you think of the new building. Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to

Nathan Scarfe, 17, has enrolled to study brickwork.

He said: “I am studying a level two diploma. I am impressed by the building, it looks really good and I am looking forward to studying here and using the new facilities.”

Kimberley Davidson, 17, has enrolled to study beauty therapy.

She said: “I was at 6th form but it wasn't for me so I thought I'd come to Suffolk New College.

“I think the new building is really nice and well set up. I have yet to see the facilities I will be using but I am really looking forward to studying here.”

If you would like to enrol or find out more about the courses on offer at the college call the information centre on 01473 382211 or visit the college or visit the website

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