University plan for Wakefield closer

15th November 2010'Annual graduation ceremony at wakefield college'Picture: MATTHEW PAGE
15th November 2010'Annual graduation ceremony at wakefield college'Picture: MATTHEW PAGE

A UNIVERSITY centre could open in the city centre by 2014.

A proposal from Wakefield College to expand its university-level courses and student places will be considered by Wakefield Council’s cabinet committee on 

And the college is hoping to provide the courses at a new university building in the city centre, near its current Margaret Street campus.

Council leader Coun Peter Box announced a campaign for a university last year when a Centre for Cities report claimed skill levels in Wakefield were among the lowest in the country.

And if the plan is approved next week, council and college bosses will work together to secure funding and find a new building.

It would expand the college’s university offering, which is currently limited to about 130 places.

Assistant principal of the college Ian Wainwright said: “We want to offer more and have a specific building in which to do that, preferably in the city centre.

“Over time it would make a substantial difference. The more places we can offer the more likely people are to stay in Wakefield and work here.”

The college is already working on a multi-million pound refurbishment of its Margaret Street campus.

And most of the funding for the university centre would come from the sale of the college’s Thornes Park campus.

It cannot be sold for housing because it was removed from the Local Development Framework (LDF) following public backlash last year.

But Mr Wainwright said the college was working towards a solution with other local organisations including the park’s Friends group.

Tuesday’s cabinet report said the new centre would be a “world-class” facility, focusing on business, digital, creative and cultural industries, environmental technologies, manufacturing, food and drink, and logistics.

The courses would be of varying length, both full and part time, and tailored to the needs of employers.

Council leader Coun Peter Box said: “I’m pleased to see that plans are moving 

“A university is very much needed so we can raise aspirations, nurture the dreams of young people and encourage people to achieve their ambitions.”

The college had to scale down its plans to refurbish the Margaret Street campus after it lost out on funding from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) for a proposed £75m scheme.

But £25m renovation plans were approved last summer, and the old buildings were demolished in September.