University bid moves step closer

GOVERNMENT education chiefs are today poring over plans to create a university for Suffolk.The blueprint compiled by county education chiefs and the universities on Essex and East Anglia has been handed in to the Higher Education Funding Council.

GOVERNMENT education chiefs are today poring over plans to create a university for Suffolk.

The blueprint compiled by county education chiefs and the universities on Essex and East Anglia has been handed in to the Higher Education Funding Council.

And signs point towards a favourable reception.

Nick Foster, chairman of Suffolk's Learning and Skills Council, is keeping his feet on the ground, despite being excited about the potential of the project.


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He said: "Things are looking good, it's fair to say. At the moment we are waiting to see the result of the bid that has been put into the HEFC.

"The bid is in for additional student numbers for the county and a bid for additional money for new buildings.

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"We haven't heard anything concrete about how well it was received, but we are picking up vibes that HEFC are keen on the project."

Suffolk County Council chief executive Mike More warned there was still a lot of work to do before the dream became reality.

He said: "The next key stage is to put together the detailed financial and business plan.

"We're working towards HEFC going with us to the next stage as part of a development bid to put before the treasury."

Mr More said detailed discussions were being held with the county's further education colleges, the East of England Development Agency and borough councils.

The centre of the university is destined for a new education quarter to be created in Ipswich.

It would then spread out into more rural parts of the county through hubs in Bury St Edmunds, Lowestoft and one or two other locations.

Essex and UEA would work together to manage the new university, but the exact details will be thrashed out if initial approval is granted.

Mr More said: "The MPs are being very supportive, but we need to build it up within the business community.

"The support is there, but we need to carry on pushing it."

University backers expect some response to their plans fairly early in the new year.

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