University hopes move forward

DREAMS of a new university for Ipswich have received a new boost after it was confirmed today that land on Rope Walk should be handed over to the project early in the new year.

DREAMS of a new university for Ipswich have received a new boost after it was confirmed today that land on Rope Walk should be handed over to the project early in the new year.

Suffolk County Council is expected to finally abandon its offices in St Giles House, St Clare House and other buildings on Rope Walk - apart from St Edmund House - early next year.

They will be handed over to the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) which is to develop the site for the university project.

"I don't think the buildings themselves are of any value, the land is what is needed for the university," said county executive member Ray Nowak.


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"The first job will be to send in the bulldozers - although in the case of St Giles House I'm not sure they will need a bulldozer!"

St Edmund House at the other end of Rope Walk is also due to be handed over to the university eventually, but it will continue to be occupied by the county council for the next three years.

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December is the deadline for project leaders to present a formal bid for Government funding for the university.

They are preparing a detailed business plan to apply for major funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The overall plan is to establish an education quarter based on Suffolk College's current Rope Walk site in Ipswich and selected sites on the town's waterfront.

It will comprise a new university for the county and a new further education (FE) college for Ipswich, to replace the existing Suffolk College.

The project appeared to move a step closer when Chancellor Gordon Brown revealed plans to increase spending on higher education (HE).

In his spending review, he promised cash for schools and universities would increase from £52billion in 2004/05 to £64bn in 2007/08.

Project partners will now deliver a formal funding bid to HEFCE by December, according to a report going to Suffolk County Council's learning for life overview and scrutiny committee tomorrow .

The university project is a partnership between the universities of Essex and East Anglia and key stakeholders include Suffolk College, Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council, the East of England Development Agency and the Suffolk Learning and Skills Council.

If planning consents and land deals are finalised, it is hoped the university, which is set to have a number of satellite centres across the county, will open in the autumn of 2007.

nWhat do you think of the University plans? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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