Dream of creating University of Peterborough moves closer to reality after funding boost

Mark Reeve, LEP chairman, and Cllr John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council.

Mark Reeve, LEP chairman, and Cllr John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council.

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The creation of a long-awaited University of Peterborough looks to have taken a step forward with a huge funding boost for the project

More than £700,000 is to be pumped into the venture that could eventually see the construction of a £50 millon university teaching thousands of students.

We want our young people to have the option to keep learning here and for students outside the area to study and settle in the city.

Cllr John Holdich, city council leader

The money comes from the region’s economic growth driver, the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership.

It is spending £600,000 to support the current University Centre Peterborough, on the Peterborough Regional College campus, obtaining Taught Degree Awarding Powers - recognised as the first step towards the direct delivery of degrees from a University of Peterborough.

The remaining £120,000 will fund the creation of a project team to develop a project plan for the creation of a university.

The LEP’s next move is to draw up a funding agreement setting out timeframes, processes and expected results of the project.

Peterborough is the largest conurbation in the UK without a university.

Mark Reeve, the LEP chairman, said: “At the moment there is a higher education cold spot around Peterborough, which is holding back business growth.

“We believe the University of Peterborough would be a game changing project for the city, and has the potential to unlock significant economic growth for the local area.”

Peterborough City Council leader, Councillor John Holdich, said: “We have made no secret of the fact that we want a fully-fledged university in Peterborough. This announcement from the LEP is fantastic.

“Currently many of our young people have to leave Peterborough to achieve their chosen degree which is a great shame. We want our young people to have the option to keep learning here and for students outside the area to study and settle in the city.

“Through speaking to our businesses we know we need to upskill our workforce so that they have a wealth of talent to choose from. Key to achieving this is having a dedicated university with awarding powers.”

But Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said: “I broadly support the aspiration but would caution against funding lots of committees and consultation without a proper timeframe.

“We need a firm business plan, support from a wide range of Peterborough community stakeholders and realistic timeline.

“It will be a difficult and challenging process but the rewards for our area will be considerable and we all need to double down to make sure it really happens.”

Terry Jones, principal of Peterborough Regional College, said: “Peterborough has the students, the expertise and ambition to create a world-class university. With financial support from the LEP and the commitment of a broad coalition of city leaders, we can make it a reality.”

He added: “The university project will build on the outstanding success of University Centre Peterborough, which has grown student numbers year on year.”

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Peterborough could have fully fledged university by 2020 after ‘Eastern Powerhouse’ announcement in budget