Suffolk targets 3,000 more university students 'in next few years'
PUBLISHED: 07:03 07 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:27 08 July 2019
Suffolk could see a rise of more than 3,000 university students over the next few years as part of ambitious growth plans.
The University of Suffolk currently has about 7,000 students, with many based at its iconic Waterfront campus but also in colleges offering higher education provision.
But as a report into the economic impact of the university was released this week, Prof Helen Langton - vice-chancellor of the university - said: "If we could get that up to 10,000 over the next few years, with a spread of those regionally, that would fantastic."
She believes the current 10-year trend of declining numbers of 18-year-olds going to university is about to end, meaning the numbers of post A-level students should start to rise.
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However she also hopes the university will work with more further education providers, so people can study at various locations across the county.
Prof Langton is confident the university has the infrastructure to cope with an influx of students, with currently unused buildings currently being revamped.
"If we suddenly grow massively, we have got the space," she said.
"There will be more 18-year-olds going to university and we need more than our fair share of those. We'll do more with other education providers."
Prof Langton's comments came as an independent report by BiGGAR Economic showed the huge financial boost the university is giving not just Ipswich and Suffolk, but the whole country.
Students at the university spent £33.2million between them in Ipswich during the 2017/18 academic year, with Prof Langton saying: "A number of our students are from out of the region, so they're absolutely bringing money to the region.
"Many of our students will be doing some sort of part-time work alongside their studies, contributing more to the economy.
"They also bring in their families, so that's additional money."
The report also showed it contributed £103million to the British economy in the 2017/18 academic year, bringing £41million Gross Value Added (GVA) - a measure of the value of goods and services provided in a particular area, sector or organisation - to Ipswich alone and £56million GVA to Suffolk during that period.
That meant it supported 820 jobs in the town and 1,210 across the whole county - as well as 2,270 in the UK.
BiGGAR also said the university had brought about wider social and cultural transformation, for example helping to regenerate Ipswich Waterfront.
Prof Langton said the report vindicated the decision of her predecessors to set up the University of Suffolk several years ago.
"This shows that they were right to do it," she said.
"Not only was it right socially and culturally, but economically."