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A new campus: a new vision for business-higher education partnership

* 15 July 2004 *

A new campus: a new vision for business-higher education partnership

The University of Sussex aims to create an innovative partnership between business and higher education with its proposals to develop a new research-led campus in West Sussex which will complement the University's existing campus at Falmer.

The vision for the new campus is based on a mix of world-class science, technology and business, with research and teaching focused on the needs of business and industry.

Professor Alasdair Smith, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: "This is an innovative and exciting opportunity, in keeping with Sussex's radical tradition of developing new approaches to higher education. There is still a long way to go to make this a reality. But by working together with business and the wider community, Sussex can make a real contribution to the future success of the region."

An initial study by business advisors KPMG has shown a gap in higher-education provision in the area, as well as exciting opportunities to offer research, teaching and business development to meet local and regional business needs and strengthen the region's economy and international status.  

Based on the region's growing economy, the areas for teaching and research could include automotive and aviation engineering, pharma/biosciences, computing and information technology, and business and management. The development would incorporate business incubation facilities drawing on the growing reputation of the Sussex Innovation Centre, and would be a major element in the success of the Gatwick Diamond, launched on July 8.

The campus would offer undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, but would seek to deliver teaching in innovative ways.  This could include "fast-track" degree courses - completed in two years rather than three - modular learning to meet the needs of continuing professional development, and e-learning opportunities.

The plans, which are still at the evaluation stage, also identify a 150-acre site that would accommodate up to 4,000 students and 800 members of staff, drawn from both the region and internationally. Research and business facilities would also be accommodated on the site. The site is formerly managed woodland adjacent to Tilgate Park. 

The land has been identified as an area for a significant development benefiting the Crawley area and would be carefully developed in keeping with the University's extensive expertise in managing environmentally sensitive sites.  It is a preferred choice because of its development potential, first-class transport and communication links and centrality to the region's population and economy. 

The feasibility study also suggests that the proposals would have the support of local and regional organisations, who would view it as an opportunity to enhance the region's skills base and economic potential.

Cllr Doug Murdoch, Crawley Council's Executive Member for Planning and Economic Development, said: "This is great news. To locate one of the most innovative centres of business and academic excellence at the heart of the Gatwick Diamond will benefit businesses, local people and the region as a whole. It will provide a huge boost in achieving our aims to help raise skill levels across the town and to diversify the local economy.

"It's an exciting prospect for the future but we must remember there is still a formal planning process to go through."

Crawley businessman John Peel, who is Director of West Sussex Economic Partnership, said: "This initiative between the University and the business community will help to strengthen our place at the cutting-edge of business research and development. A collaborative approach which attracts world class research, supports new business development and strengthens the skills of the workforce is a fantastic opportunity for the region."

Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of CADIA, which represents business in Sussex and Surrey, said: "CADIA welcomes this news and is very pleased at the thought of a University campus at the heart of the region. Not only will this bring greater educational opportunities, this initiative will create jobs. This will also show that the area is a real centre of economic activity. I am particularly pleased to note that the new campus will focus on vocational and work-related learning. We will do all we can to support and help progress the building of this campus."

Support for the educational element of the estimated £300 million development costs would have to come from funding bodies including the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), but the bulk of the total funding would be drawn from the private sector.

* Notes for editors *

Press Office contacts: Maggie Clune or Jacqui Bealing, University of Sussex,
Tel. 01273 678888, Fax 01273 877456, or

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