Video: University lectures begin on Waterfront

IPSWICH officially began life as a university town as the region's first higher education body opened its doors to students and staff.

IPSWICH officially began life as a university town as the region's first higher education body opened its doors to students and staff.

University College Suffolk (UCS) is now open for business in Ipswich, as well as Lowestoft, Bury, and through access points across the county.

The new waterfront building, which cost an estimated £22 million, opened yesterday for the first day of lectures.

Six floors of learning space offer teaching rooms, a café, a learning resource centre with more than 60 new computers, public meeting rooms and social areas.

There is room for an estimated 220 office staff and around 1,300 students will be taught in the building every day.

Neil Jackson, Director of Estates at UCS, was impressed by the hard work put in by everyone involved.

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He said: “I'm extremely pleased and grateful to the team of more than 260 contractors and staff who have got us here on time.

“This is really our front door and everyone worked very closely to make sure we got what we needed when we needed it.

“We have a 140 seat lecture theatre on the ground floor. Throughout the building there are more lecture theatres and smaller seminar rooms.”

Mr Jackson will now concentrate much of his effort on phase two of the UCS project - a 600-bed student housing unit in Orwell Quay.

Some work still needs to be done to the top half of the building but the first two floors are complete and provide a welcoming learning zone for students.

Suffolk County Council has invested over £13 million as a lead partner in the UCS project and hopes the new university will encourage many high-flying students to stay in Suffolk and attract young people from outside the county to stay locally and add to the economy of Suffolk.

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Emma Bland, Rachael Bradley, Natalie Gibbs and Leanne Perkins, all 18 and from Bury St Edmunds, are on a three-year course for early childhood studies.

The former West Suffolk College students were four of the first students to be taught in the new lecture theatres.

Emma said: “We chose UCS because it was close to us - we're all still living at home so it's a lot cheaper. I like the fact that it's all new, it's a very impressive building. We had our inductions last week and today was the first day of teaching.”

Natalie added: “The course is also very good and offers everything that we want. It goes into things in a lot more depth than other universities that we looked at.”

Rachael said: “We also know our way around Ipswich quite well so it's easier to get around. Some of us are hoping to go on to teaching training when we're finished.”

Eileen Ellis, 54, a third year psychology and sociology student from Ipswich, was relaxing in the third floor café with Claire Hyde, 29, from Hadleigh.

She said: “The resources are fantastic. We've just had our first lecture and are due back in a few moments. The rooms are very comfy and it's easy to see what's on the board. They are very spacious and extremely airy - they're very good. All the technology is working. They said the rooms were going to be ready and they are.

Claire added: “There is a lot more atmosphere now. Its better being distanced from the college students - it's a bit more of an adult learning environment. It now feels like a university rather than a further education college.”

Howard Smith, 23, from Martlesham, is president of the Students' Union and is in the third year of a business management with marketing course.

He said: “I spent my first year at Essex University but decided to move back when I heard about the opportunity of UCS coming on line. I'm very impressed with the whole development - its state of the art for the 21st century and hopefully it will be a test of things to come.

“During fresher's week the atmosphere was electric. It was good to see so many students about, taking advantage of the facilities that Ipswich and UCS has to offer.”