Hannah Gray learns more about the progress of the University Centre Peterborough, and finds out what courses you can study for right now.
Hannah Gray learns more about the progress of the University Centre Peterborough, and finds out what courses you can study for right now.FREE accommodation, mum's cooking, the chance to be with all your old school friends – the list of advantages of going to university in your home city are endless.
However, for the many thousands of would-be students here in Peterborough, until fairly recently this was not an option.
Higher education meant going away, and in many cases, not coming back, meaning that our fair city was losing many of its bright young things.
But fast forward just a few years and we could find ourselves living in a vibrant university city, with the boost to the economy that students bring, and a pool of educated, skilled labour for our many businesses.
Because the plans to create a university in Peterborough are well on track.
Although higher education courses have been offered for some time through Peterborough Regional College (PRC), this year, for the first time, a prospectus under the branding University Centre Peterborough has been produced.
See a list of what is currently on offer at University Centre Peterborough. There are still places available on some courses, admission will close in mid September. For more information, visit www.anglia.ac.uk/ucp or call 0845 271 3333.
Currently the University Centre can cater for 400 "full-time equivalent" students, which means there will be slightly more heads than that because of the way that part-time students are calculated.
Overseeing their studies will be the centre's new academic director, Paul McDermott, who started this week.
A new dedicated university building on the PRC site will hopefully be open from next September, and before that, a centre at Lynchwood Business Park should be up and running later this year.
This latter centre will offer traditional degree courses with January start dates but also masters courses.
A new centre for health courses, located in the city centre should be announced soon and should be open from January, so as you can see, things are moving forward, and there are bigger things to come.
Degree courses taken through the university centre will be accredited by Anglia Ruskin University, but it is hoped that in time Peterborough will get its own university status.
To do this, it will need to have 4,000 students, and the earliest predicted date for this is 2013.
The university centre's executive director Linda Jones is more than happy with how things are going.
"I would say it's gone at a phenomenal pace really. I wouldn't have thought one could have done much more than what we've done. Hopefully, by next year everything will up and running and we will have doubled our students, and I would say that will be a real test of the foundations we've laid this year," she said.
Although Linda has her eye on the bigger picture, and would eventually like to attract students nationally and internationally, right now she has her sights set firmly on the city and surrounding area.
She said: "Our number one aim is to attract local people, and there are two group of students within those local people. There are the 18 year olds coming from school, people who are in education that can progress.
"We want to drive that up because Peterborough is significantly under-participating in higher education. The UK average is 30 per cent, and Peterborough is currently at 20 per cent.
"The other people we want to engage with are people in the workplace. Lots of companies tell us they want to grow, they want to expand in Peterborough but have a skill shortage, particular at degree level."One of Linda strengths as the executive director is that she has ambitious ideas for Peterborough and genuinely wants to create a quality university.
To this end, a leadership training course will be coming over from one of Anglia Ruskin's Cambridge campuses.
"That's quite exciting for us because that's transporting a centre of excellence into Peterborough," Linda said
Linda is also hoping the city will also have another USP in the form of a centre or institute for sustainable development, particularly focusing on sustainable construction, headed up by an expert in the field.
This emphasis on quality is a key way Linda will try to attract some of the Peterborough students who would traditionally have the means to go to universities in other cities.
She believes that students should be regarded as customers and given the best quality possible for their money.
"Now that they're paying top up fees, they can go anywhere in the world, certainly anywhere in this country, and the higher education customer has become a lot more discerning, there's a lot more choice," she said.
However, for the benefit of the whole city, the trick is not to just attract students locally and beyond, but to keep them once they have graduated.
Linda is very clear about what she would like to happen.
"When they come out, instead of going back home, they stay here in Peterborough and they get employed by Peterborough firms, and in effect you close the circle of benefits," she said.
This is what is currently on offer at University Centre Peterborough. There are still places available on some courses, admission will close in mid September. For more information, visit www.anglia.ac.uk/ucp or call 0845 271 3333.
Arts, law and social sciences
Community Arts: Theatre Practice BA (Hons)
Criminology BA (Hons)
English BA (Hons)
History and English BA (Hons)
History and sociology BA (Hons)
Journalism BA (Hons)
Law and history BA (Hons)
Laws and sociology BA (Hons)
Media studies BA (Hons)
Psychosocial studies BA (Hons)
Sociology BA (Hons)
Sociology and English BA (Hons)
Business and law BA (Hons)
Business management BA (Hons)
Business management HNC
Business management HND
CIPD certificate in leadership and management and the diploma in human resource management
Diploma in management studies
Education studies BA (Hons)
Early years childcare and education FdA
Learning support for secondary education FdA
Post-complulsory education and Training (top-up) BA (Hons)
Science and technology
Archaeology and landscape history BA (Hons)
Civil engineering studies HNC
Computing and information systems BSc (Hons)
Construction/Construction management HND
Engineering (Mechanical/Electric/Electronic) HNC/HND
Integrated engineering BEng (Hons)
Health and Social Care
Adult nursing BSc (Hons)/DipHE
Child nursing BSc (Hons)/DipHE
Learning disability BSc (Hons)/DipHE
Midwifery BSc (Hons)
Operating department practice DipHE
Social work BSc (Hons)