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University of Cornwall News

10th June 1999

The following articles appeared in today's The Cornishman:

University - say no to second best
Editorial Comment

The steering group of the Combined University in Cornwall partnership is meeting this week to decide on the outline plan for the provision of higher education in the county (see story page 32)

The people of the county have seen a university as one of the top priorities in bringing about economic regeneration and employment and one of the major schemes they would like to see emerging from Objective One Euro funding.

But it seems to the objective observer that what they imagine and would require is somewhat at odds with what the educationalists and others within the CUC partnership have in mind to foist on us.

While it is fair to say the layman might imagine some landmark scheme in which the county can have a pride, sited in an area which will attract students from without, rather than making them bolt for Aberdeen, those within the CUC talk glibly and without reference to the public of the county of setting aside the single campus model in favour of a 'distributive university,' building on 'current provision' with some future promise of a 'stand alone' university built around two hubs - one at Falmouth and the other at Camborne.

What cant. This smacks of jobs for the boys with current further educational establishments seeking to aggrandize themselves at the expense of the county getting the university of stature and status that it deserves, and indeed needs, to attract students and business from outside the county.

We now have the necessary funds. If we have the will and the vision, we don't have to put up with the second rate.

Cornwall deserves the best. It's time those on the CUC ditched their old thinking and fought together for the best for the county, its young people and its future.

A university for Cornwall
Survey shows student demand

A SURVEY showing there is enough demand from students within and outside the county, has given the green light to plans for a free-standing university in Cornwall.

The recent report commissioned by the Combined University in Cornwall (CUC) partnership showed the potential to build higher education student numbers in Cornwall to over 10,000 by 2010.

Exeter and Plymouth universities and Falmouth College of Arts will now work with the county's four further education colleges, Penwith, Cornwall, St Austell and Truro - over the coming months to turn the dream into a reality.

These colleges currently provide higher education courses under the umbrella of the two universities.

The College of St Mark and St John in Plymouth and the Open University are being invited to help.

Although Cornwall cannot expect to see a 'stand-alone' university for around another 10 years, plans to increase the number and range of higher education opportunities are already underway.

This week the CUC steering group is meeting to decide the outline plan for academic provision for future higher education courses, both under-graduate and post-graduate.

Given the geography and scattered population of Cornwall, the traditional university model of a single campus has been set aside in favour of a distributive university building on current provision at the existing higher and further education institutions, but adding two 'hubs' one in Falmouth and one in Camborne.

These bases, along with the FE colleges, will provide distinctive higher education courses - degrees and Higher National Diplomas - which reflect the economy and culture of Cornwall, related to such fields as leisure and tourism, geology and arts and crafts.

Convenor and spokesman for CUC and principal of Falmouth College of Arts, Professor Alan Livingston said: "Cornwall has a level of deprivation that is totally unacceptable and one of the ways out of that is to make sure the institutions attract people who will benefit from that education. It should not be exclusive and it should not mean that it is only a university or higher education experience for the middle classes.

"But it needs a focus and an identity. Students need to feel that when they attend they're still getting a university experience.

"In terms of identity I don't think it would be good enough simply to see it developing within the existing provision. There has to be a commitment to build on new sites.

"I think that although we are talking about an extension and expansion of higher education, the longer term objective has to be toward something called a university."

Although the details will take time to thrash out, this will be a model for the 21st century, requiring multi-million pound investment in building and resources which will only be possible through funding from the HEFC and Cornwall's Objective 1 status, of which the CUC initiative is a major plank. But it must attract out of county students whose fees are vital if it is to succeed long term.

Professor Livingston added: "Underpinning everything will be a commitment to quality. It is very important that we do not produce something that is seen as second-best. It has and will have a national and international focus and it is very important that we get the reputation right."

He says the educational benefits to Cornwall's population may be huge, including preventing the youth 'brain-drain' but points out the need for a university in Cornwall embraces wider issues.

"The university will play a major role in the social and economic regeneration of Cornwall. What the university is trying to do is to create the educational opportunity so that people don't automatically leave.

"Following the creation of the university, hopefully a better business infrastructure will create jobs, so, in a sense it will become a real stimulant to Cornwall as a place to live and work in and not retire to."

The Professor remarked: "If we get it right, the pay-off in about 10 years could be enormously important for Cornwall."

Copyright © Cornish Weekly Newspapers Ltd 1999

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