New Peterborough university: Build costs, courses and jobs

In the second part of an in-depth look at Peterborough’s new university plans, Joel Lamy looks at more key aspects of the project that is being heralded as a transformational one for Peterborough.

Tuesday, 11th August 2020, 8:19 am
The planned Peterborough university campus on the Embankment.

How much new Peterborough university will cost - and how it will expand in the future

The initial cost to build the infrastructure for the new university is expected to be £30.47 million.

Of that, £12.3 million is coming from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, £1.87 million from Peterborough City Council through land contribution, £12.5 million from the Local Growth Fund and a predicted £3.8 million from Anglia Ruskin.

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Phase 2 of the project will be an ‘Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Research Centre/Innovation Hub’ used for educational research and development (with no teaching taking place), and Phase 3 will be an expansion of the campus.

The hub, which has received government funding of £14.6 million, will be managed by an ‘Innovation Partner’ which according to the report is “an established global player in promoting business investment in research and innovation”.

The partner is due to be announced in September and has “worked with over 1,000 businesses across the globe to raise over £325 million for collaborative R&D (research and development) between academia and business in just 10 years”.

The report declares that the partnership will “transform the resilience, productivity and knowledge intensity of the local economy of Peterborough and the Fens”.

One of the several aims of the partnership is to secure funding from five universities from the “LondonStansted-Cambridge Growth Corridor and the OxCam Growth Corridor” to create eight innovation centres with a combined £10 million annual spend on research and development.

Works on Phase 2 of the project are expected to begin in October and be complete by 2022 at a cost of £18 million.

Phase 3 will help grow student numbers to 10,000 by 2029/30. It will comprise of two further teaching focused buildings, opening in 2025 and 2028. It is expected that works on Phase 3 will begin late next year.

Phases two and three of the project will cost between £68 million and £98 million and will need external funding. Investment is being sought - and so far has been received - from the government, as well as other sources including: investors, local pension schemes, equity-based crowdfunding, large businesses and Peterborough City Council through the contribution of land.

The combined authority’s only financial contribution to the university project is funding for the campus and not for its future growth.

Anglia Ruskin has also committed to integrating its existing nursing provision provided at Guild House into the new campus.

Beyond the project, funding is also being sought from the national £387 million 2021/22 Local Growth Fund allocation.

This is to help deliver:

• A central, multi-university research super-hub to connect local firms locally with global partners

• New business clusters and networks, especially in manufacturing

• £20 million of growth coaching, mentoring and capital for innovation-based firms

• A new local Foreign Direct Investment agency to attract high value firms globally

• A skills brokerage service to connect learners, and those retraining, with growth firms

• A network of new tech accelerators and incubators connecting Cambridge with the north of the county.

It is expected that there will be up to 2,000 students starting at the university in the 2022/23 academic year, rising to 3,000 by 2024/25 and 4,000 by 2025/26 with an “aspirational target” of up to 12,500 students by 2030/31.

How the new Peterborough university will be run - including who will own the campus

The delivery of the new campus is being managed by the combined authority before it is then handed over to a body jointly owned by the combined authority, city council and Anglia Ruskin.

The campus will then leased by the joint body to Anglia Ruskin to take over responsibility of its running, although the joint body retains the right to terminate the lease if “insufficient progress” is being made.

Moreover, the report states that combined authority will keep ARU’s recruitment plans under review to “ensure that course selection is not unduly or unrealistically competing with other institutions and to determine whether appropriate measures are being taken to reach under-represented and local groups of students”.

The report states that the proposed curriculum and make-up of student numbers “deviates significantly” from what had been originally envisaged, with a “much higher proportion of students on campus relative to the total target student population”.

The combined authority has indicated that this is due to the addition of student nurses coming to the university from Anglia Ruskin who are currently being housed at its Oundle Road campus.

The joint body is set to be owned 75.38 per cent by the combined authority, 19.76 per cent by ARU and 4.86 per cent by the city council.

It is expected that the combined authority will sell its stake in the joint body to either Anglia Ruskin or a third party to raise funds for the £12.5 million Local Growth Fund loan which is due to be repaid by 2028.

ARU will have to report to the joint body every year on the condition of the campus and progress on receiving degree awarding powers and establishing a fully independent university.

Should the university become independent in 2032, the report states that there is an “aspiration” for ARU to maintain a long term relationship with it.

ARU has already started the process to hire a student recruitment manager and by 2021 will have additional marketing staff such as student recruitment and outreach officers and events officers, it is added.

The faculties and courses to be offered at new Peterborough university

The academic offer will be “tailored to the current and future demands of businesses in the city and wider area as well as leveraging new high value businesses to the region,” the full business case boldly states.

It will be “agile and flexible in its approach to delivery with a curriculum offer in health and social care, education, business, sciences, digitalisation and technologies as well as agriculture and environmental sustainability”.

Originally, three faculties were planned:

• Business, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Professional Services

• Creative & Digital Arts and Sciences

• Agriculture, Environment and Sustainability.

However, Health & Social Care and Education has now been added.

Moreover, future courses will include those in: engineering, manufacturing and advanced materials, logistics and distribution and life sciences.

ARU already provides qualifications in nursing and midwifery and it plans to transfer its current campus at Guild Hall to become part of the new university.

New Peterborough university to create thousands of jobs but will only open on time if ‘no further delays’

To get the university ready to open for the 2022/23 academic year there can be no more delays, the full business case makes clear.

This means planning approval for the new campus needs to be agreed by Peterborough City Council in September.

It is anticipated that a contractor will be chosen shortly and that spades will be in the ground before the end of the year.

The report says the size of the campus has been increased so ARU can “meet the needs of their curriculum,” however, this has delayed the process.

It adds: “The programme does not allow for any further delay,” which includes any delays related to Covid-19.

This is highlighted again later on, with any delays “remaining a risk to the overall scheme”.

The campus is due to be operational in September 2022 but will not be at capacity until 2025, “ensuring space will available should social distancing be needed into the medium term”.

The timeline is for education provision to begin in the 2022/23 academic year.

ARU will then register with the Office for Students by the beginning of 2025/26 and, all being well, will be granted unlimited taught degree awarding powers by the beginning of 2028/29.

Finally, it is envisaged that the new university title will be introduced in 2032 once it becomes independent.

The university is expected to create thousands of jobs, beginning with 50 temporary roles in construction.

The number of indirect jobs created is expected to hit 14,400, with around 200 people employed at the university itself.

The number of apprenticeships is expected to hit 5,000.