Former University of Peterborough academic partner to be given £150k payment after complaint

University Centre Peterborough
University Centre Peterborough
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Nearly £150,000 is set to be handed over to a Peterborough higher education provider after it expressed dismay at being removed as the academic partner for the city’s new university.

Last year University Centre Peterborough was chosen to be the education provider for the new technical university, which is scheduled to open to 2,000 students in 2022.

But despite being ready to submit a crucial application to the independent regulator which is deciding whether the university can go ahead, UCP was told it needed to reapply for its role by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

Now, the county’s mayoral body is due to agree at its July 31 board meeting to backdate £148,304 to UCP after it complained that its sudden demotion and loss of funding left it with “unfunded staff costs”.

The money will fund its work towards the new university up to the end of July, even though it may soon be replaced.

UCP is a joint venture between Peterborough Regional College and Anglia Ruskin University. Rachel Nicholls, acting principal at the regional college, had written to the combined authority stating that the funding cut had had a “detrimental impact” and would lead to it making a loss in the financial year unless the money was restored.

She also warned that a failure to pay up would prevent UCP from re-applying to be the university’s academic provider when a formal tendering process beings in August.

In her letter to the combined authority, she said: “We believe that UCP is integral to the formation of an independent university for Peterborough,” adding that she did not want to see the progress made so far ‘written off’.

The combined authority has previously paid more than £1 million to UCP for its work.

Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer has insisted it was always the combined authority’s intention to open up the role of academic provider to a tender process, but the news appeared to catch UCP off guard as it had already created its own independent council, headed by Sir Les Ebdon, to drive the project forward.

It has also prepared an application for degree awarding powers to the Office for Students which is needed for the university to get the green light. That application is now on hold.