A new body which will be in charge of governing the future University of Peterborough has been formed.
The creation of the Shadow Council of University Centre Peterborough (UCP) marks a step forward in the project which is due to see the new university open in October 2022.
The council, which has now met for the first time, will operate in its shadow capacity until August 2019, after which it will become the governing body of UCP and the future university.
The first chair of the body is Professor Sir Les Ebdon who has previously been involved in the establishment of new universities at Plymouth and most recently Bedfordshire, where he was Vice Chancellor until 2012. He was also appointed Director of Fair Access to Higher Education in the same year.
He said: “My appointment and the first meeting of UCP’s shadow council marks another key step in its journey to become an independent university and to help raise levels of educational achievement across the city.
“I am personally very excited to be asked to become part of this journey. For too long Peterborough was one of the largest cities in the country without its own university and levels of participation in higher education are correspondingly low.
“Since its creation in 2007 University Centre Peterborough has been successfully addressing this issue, but we need now to accelerate progress. That is what the shadow council will be focusing on, alongside engaging with local employers to understand what skills the local labour market needs most so that we can structure our educational offer accordingly.”
The new fully-fledged univerity will evolve from University Centre Peterborough - a joint venture between Anglia Ruskin University and Peterborough Regional College - should it obtain degree awarding powers, as expected.
The shadow council has student and staff members as well as representatives from Peterborough Regional College, Anglia Ruskin University, Peterborough City Council and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, plus independent representatives from the local business, voluntary and educational community.
Last month it was announced by the city council that it had started a feasibility study to create a new student campus on Bishop’s Road.
The project has so far received £13.57 million of funding. Of that £9.74 million has been awarded from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority for the establishment of a new campus.
Peterborough was promised a fully fledged university as a result of councillors voting in favour of establishing the combined authority.
The new university is hoped to grow to 12,500 students by 2035 according to its current plans.
Cllr John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “I am delighted by Professor Sir Les Ebdon’s appointment. His experience of setting up new universities elsewhere in the country will be invaluable as we push ahead with this transformational project for Peterborough and its communities.
“The creation of the independent university is something I have personally campaigned for and supported for many years. It is far more than an educational project – it is a project that is fundamental to the success of the city.”
Liz Knight, chief operating officer of University Centre Peterborough, said: “Sir Les Ebdon’s appointment and the creation of the shadow council is a huge step forward and another demonstration of our ambition.
!Since Peterborough Regional College and Anglia Ruskin University started the joint venture in 2007, we have made great progress and we are indebted to them for their vision and hard work in getting UCP to this point.
“They will continue to have important roles to play as we move towards the creation of an independent University Centre Peterborough next year, and in due course an independent University of Peterborough.”
Dr Trevor Bolton, Pro Vice Chancellor (partnerships) at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “We are delighted Professor Sir Les Ebdon has been appointed to this role. He brings a huge amount of experience which will be invaluable in addressing the challenges ahead.”