Partnership’s new 1,000 student university institute for Southwater

A proposed new venture between Telford & Wrekin Council and the University of Wolverhampton to create a new education institute in the heart of the town has been revealed today.

The two organisations announced that they are in discussions about creating the new facility - to support the borough’s economic and social needs.

The centre, a joint partnership exploring different funding and investment models, would seek to grow local participation in Higher Education to meet skills needs and would be aimed at both young and mature learners. 

The council has identified a potential site overlooking one end of Southwater’s lake, next to Telford Ice Rink and Travelodge hotel. It would create a prestige, new, Town Centre facility in a striking design building over a number of floors with a mixed use offer.

The aim would be to attract an increased number of students from across the Borough and further afield to study in Southwater and Telford.

If given the go-ahead it would represent one of the final pieces in the completion of the Southwater complex which has been delivered through a £250m public/private partnership and is now recognised as a regional retail, leisure and conference hub.  

The plan is part of a major investment programme by the University of Wolverhampton set to support new and existing businesses to grow and further increase the attraction of Telford for new investors. 

The proposed institute model would respond directly to employers’ training needs with career and skills pathways for students, with courses shaped to meet the demand of businesses in and around the borough and provide opportunities for all ages.

It would offer students a mix of industry-specific short courses and general full time study offering academic and apprenticeship routes linked through to jobs in the borough including Foundation, Level 4 and 5, Degree top-ups, professional qualifications, continuous professional development and postgraduate courses.

The University development would have a strong focus on digital and ICT including cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), gaming and cyber security training, tapping into the borough’s growing digital economy.

Telford is already home to a growing digital sector with major companies including Cap Gemini and HMRC National Digital Delivery Centre together employing more than 4,000 people alongside high growth SMEs such as Woote, leading the way in digital solutions.

As part of the next steps the partners will continue to work with local employers, colleges and schools in shaping the proposed new venture ensuring that it provides strong education pathways for local people and beyond into employment. The partners are also exploring a range of funding routes which will inform the final business case and design of the building which will be subject to detailed planning permission.

Council leader Councillor Shaun Davies said: “This can be a really important development for the borough which would further strengthen and grow the success of Southwater and Telford Centre as a regional destination.  

“The commitment of the University of Wolverhampton shows the strength of the borough’s reputation as the destination of choice for investors. Telford is a University Town with a strong and growing education offer which has been key to investors choosing to locate but also for families and young people across the Borough

“We are committed to providing opportunities for local people of all ages to study to the highest level in their home town and to benefit from the new jobs that our Land Deal and Growth Fund are supporting. “

Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, said: “We have had a presence in Telford for 25 years and are proud to be part of the area.

“We have already started to expand our provision at Priorslee and this proposed new venture will help meet the growing economic and social need in Telford, particularly when it comes to higher skills.

“This is very much about meeting the demand and skills gap and working with employers from key growth sectors in the borough. Telford is rapidly growing economy and this has the potential to be an exciting opportunity to further establish our offer to a wider audience in a pivotal location.

“As the University of Opportunity we are firmly committed to reducing the skills gap within our communities, which includes creating opportunities for mature students and apprenticeships.”

Telford has been recognised as having the fastest housing growth by Centre for Cities and has seen over £236 million of private sector investment delivering in excess of 1,000 new jobs in the last three years through the Telford Land Deal.


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