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The following articles appeared in today's The Cornishman:
Our starter for nothing
By Joyce Channon
THE Millennium Commission and Exeter University were yesterday at loggerheads over the failure of the Cornwall University Campus in its bid for funding.
Defending its stance on its decision not to grant £33 million, a spokesman for the Commission told The Cornishman that the applicant knew, right from the start, that bricks and mortar cash would have to come from mainstream public expenditure.
However Exeter University, who have accused the Millennium Commission of constantly shifting the goalposts during its dealings with them, say that if the scheme was ineligible - in their terms - then they should have said so right at the start.
"For the last 16 months we have made huge efforts to satisfy the changing criteria set by the Millennium Commission, so, after all that effort to be told, at the end of the day 'Sorry folks you are not eligible,' is really extremely frustrating and not an argument we accept," said Exeter University spokesman, Stuart Franklin.
Not so, insists the Millennium Commission.
They say the criteria was listed in the initial proposal form, in application materials and during discusslons.
"A very clear part of National Lottery's cardinal principle is that funding for educational purposes has to be additional to mainstream public expenditure.
We often get criticised for not funding hospitals, but the legislation is quite clear - that lottery funding has to be additional to public expenditure," said a Commission spokesman.
"The reason we gave it lengthy consideration was because we were trying to find a way forward with Exeter. But at the end of the day our part would have had to be additional to mainstream public funding. And our decision is by no means a comment on the relevance of the project, simply that we are not in a position to fund mainstream public projects."
Comparisons have been drawn between the Cornwall project and the University of the Highlands and Islands which as, University Vice-Chancellor, Sir Geoffrey Holland has pointed out, received a similar sized university grant.
But the Lottery did not fund the creation of that university, said the Commission spokesman. "Our input was not about building a new campus - they were all mainstream, and this was not a campus location but an on-line university. There are a number of physical locations linked electronically, and this was our part.
"The Millennium input was about electronic access and electronic linking, whereas Cornwall represents mainstream and is more related to a single site. We worked hard with the applicant to find ways in which the project could be linked to Millennium funding as additional."
Exeter however sees no difference between their Cornwall project and the Highlands project, although the former does involve a physical campus.
Said Mr. Franklin: "Nevertheless, one of the key parts was electronic technology and using outreach facilities, linking locations to campus. At the end of the day, money from the Commission allowed the Highlands and Islands to go ahead and we don't see any real difference between that and ours.
He explained: "In terms of the criteria for applying, we looked carefully at sources of funding for which we would be eligible. We put a great deal of care into this. In terms of eligibility, to actually qualify even for consideration for funding you have to go on to a long list of applicants. The Commission whittles it down to a shortlist and the kind of criteria they apply is whether the schemes before them are eligible. We did know the criteria for applying and it was our understanding that it was an eligible application for a proportion of capital funding for the bricks and mortar.
"The Commission's point about being additional to mainstream, clearly demonstrates they have not understood the whole point of this - which is you cannot get mainstream funding for building new universities. This has been the case for many years. So how could we be eligible for this when it simply doesn't exist? Their argument does not stack up.
Vice-Chancellor, Sir Geoffrey Holland is insisting it is not the end of the road. He has criticised the Commission's decision and is optimistic that the project will go ahead, albeit in piecemeal fashion. "Our job now is to explore more and varied approaches to funding. This remains the best solution for Cornwall," he said. And Cornwall County Council chairman, William Hosking is equally adamant that all is not lost. "We will not take 'NO' for an answer", he told a full meeting of the council on Tuesday.
He said he deplored the commission's decision and is now spearheading a new campaigning thrust which will begin with a meeting between the council and supporters of Exeter University's campus project at Trereife, Penzance, to plan the way ahead.
It is likely a public appeal will be launched and attempts will be made to ensure European funding is secured as quickly as possible to give the scheme fresh impetus. Penwith councillors, meeting last night, were also expected to discuss the situation.
University dream can still become reality
We had a dream.
A dream that a university could be established here in Cornwall which would bring jobs and hope to our young people for the future, not only at the turn of the Millennium but for decades and perhaps centuries beyond.
What better way to celebrate the coming of a new millennium - to bring hope where there was little, to bring prosperity where there is poverty and to bring investment where there is dereliction.
The Millennium Commission's decision not to support the scheme after so much work is concerning. In the words of Sir Geoffrey Holland, it just does not stack up.
The commission says that it is the role of central government to fund education, and that these criterea were known at the outset.
It says that the scheme lacks a wider community benefit, yet our submissions have shown just how widely the community would benefit, this year, next year and for decades to come, both financially and socially.
Yet despite the deep disappointment and anger, all is not lost.
Much private funding is already in place and Europe backs the project.
We must now lobby the Labour Government, who came to power on promises of improved education as one of its key poilicies, to support our Cornish University.
We must gird up our loins once again and with that mettle that took us so far, fight again to ensure that this dream becomes a reality. A reality for our children, for their children and for their children's children.
This dream is not for us now, it is for the future, for the people of Cornwall in the next millennium.
We had a dream, we still have that dream. And we will move mountains to make it a proud and lasting reality.
Copyright © Cornish Weekly Newspapers Ltd 1997
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© Copyright Chris Salter 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
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Last modification: 13th January 2002
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