After clearing the Wirrina Car Park builders began work on the first teaching building at ARU Peterborough earlier this month with the expectation that it will be handed over next summer in time for the first students arriving in September 2022.
Progress on the site by the Embankment, where hoardings are now up, comes as some of the courses which will be delivered at the new technical university have been revealed on its website.
These include computing and games development, education, engineering and health and social care, with more due to be uploaded over the coming months.
ARU Peterborough is due to open initially with 2,000 students before growing to 12,500 by 2030. By this time it is expected to have three teaching buildings and two for research and development.
It will offer a combination of full-time and part-time courses, as well as degree apprenticeships. It could also offer short term courses such as for professional development.
Speaking to the Peterborough Telegraph, ARU’s new principal Ross Renton said he expected the first teaching and research buildings to open at similar times, but that the “next big milestone” is the second teaching building.
“We’ve got really ambitious student numbers,” he told the PT. “Having that second building will be absolutely critical for what we’re doing and I know there’s lots of support for it already, but we need to see that making the next step.”
The timeframe for the building, which would include a student union, will depend on access to funding Mr Renton said, although in an “ideal world” it would open soon after the first teaching facility and could include courses on sports coaching and sports therapy, law, agri-tech and the creative industries.
While works are progressing, Mr Renton is focused on making sure ARU Peterborough can generate interest from people living in the city with plans to have a range of open days as soon as possible, and in person if that is possible.
“One of the great things about the location is the people of Peterborough will see it developing, will see it growing. It’s their building, it’s their university and I want them to be able to visit,” Mr Renton said.
He added: “Some of the opportunities you would normally have like going out to schools and speaking to people will be more challenging, but at the same time we have creative teams.
“In my first few weeks I’ve had something like 100 online meetings. In doing that there’s a lot of energy and support for what we’re doing.
“And if you look at the demographics, more babies were born 18 years ago. Demand will be there as well.
“People are also starting to think about what they want to do in the future. So if you’re already in employment and you missed out on higher education the first time around, one of the things the pandemic may have done is get people to think what they may want to do in the future.
“Having a university on your doorstep where you can still care for your family, still earn while you learn, will be transformative.”
Staff have already been recruited to help develop the curriculum.
It is expected that initially 115 people will be employed at ARU Peterborough, rising to 294, on top of another 588 in the supply chain for the university’s development.
Eventually, when the project is fully complete, it is estimated that 14,000 indirect jobs could be created in the business community.
More information on ARU Peterborough can be found at: https://aru.ac.uk/peterborough.