UPDATE: Funding for new university centre in Wakefield approved

Wakefield College's plans for new �6.25m Advanced Skills and Innovation Centre approved.
Wakefield College's plans for new �6.25m Advanced Skills and Innovation Centre approved.

Funding to open a new university centre in the city has been approved.

Wakefield College was granted £3,327,133 by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority at a meeting on Friday.

The college will match fund the amount taking the total to £6.6m.

The money will be used to open a new advanced skills and innovation centre.

The new three storey centre will replace an existing single storey building standing on the Wakefield College City Centre campus.

And it will deliver higher level qualifications in construction, health and life sciences, advanced manufacturing and engineering and digital and creative technologies.

The college hopes the centre will increase the number of people with higher education qualifications across the district.

Wakefield College Principal Sam Wright said: “We’re delighted that the West Yorkshire Combined Authority has approved our plans for the Advanced Skills and Innovation Centre at our Wakefield City Campus, designed to help bridge the region’s skills gap and give young people and employers higher level educational and employment opportunities right on their doorstep.

“We are grateful for the tremendous support we’ve had from key stakeholders in making this a reality.

The new multi-million pound build will also house our University Centre building on our existing expertise in providing university-level provision in the centre of Wakefield.”

In May 2007 Leeds University closed its Bretton Hall Campus ending 60-years of study in city.

The skills centre will help people develop higher level skills, linked to the needs of the area’s employers.

It will eventually become the heart of the new university centre, which will offer a wider range of degree courses.

The college hopes to up its higher education student intake to 800 by 2021.

Wakefield Council leader Coun Peter Box said: “Today’s news brings our ambition for an advanced skills and university centre one step closer.

“We are now embarking on a new era where our aspirations for higher level education and innovation can be delivered from within the city.

“Our younger and older people will soon have the opportunity to access, close to home, the learning and training they need to reach their full potential.

“The funding from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority is real example of devolved power at work. A decision made in the local region by local people to help deliver the specific needs of a local area.

“Devolution is already working and delivering in West Yorkshire.”

Wakefield Council’s chief executive Joanne Roney, OBE said: “Having a university presence in this district has been a long term ambition in order to attract more highly skilled businesses and jobs to the district.

“As part of this it is vital that we, and our local employers, continue to invest in raising skill levels.”

In October, the college said it could sell off its Thornes Park campus to contribute to the cost of building the new skills centre.