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University of Cornwall News

23rd April 1998

Finding the way forward on University of Cornwall

The following articles appeared in today's The Cornishman:

Editorial Comment

Further calls for a united, cohesive and unified bid for a university for Cornwall came this week from the Conservative spokesman for the county David Harris and the head of St Austell College, Bill Hill, who this week gave qualified support to a campus at Trereife.

Mr Hill's support, such as it is, now leaves Camborne somewhat isolated in its stance which seems to propose an upgrading of existing college facilities to provide university courses.

Nevertheless there is no doubt that all those seeking to bring a university to the county should now get together in an effort to make this dream a reality.

There is strong support from many quarters in the county for the Trereife project but it may be that such a development could go hand in hand with providing improved sub-degree education at existing colleges of further education.

The Cornishman wholeheartedly supports this cause. The choice of site was made after extensive consultation throughout the county. A purpose-built, landmark project such as that proposed at Trereife should be at the heart of university provision in Cornwall.

All parties interested in bringing a university to the county should now get together to find a way forward. We believe Trereife should be the starting point but if a better option should come to the fore then so be it.

But none of this will happen unless all those who share the dream of a University for Cornwall can find common cause.

Bury the hatchet call

by Alison Rowe
Staff Reporter

CALLS have come this week for rival universities - Exeter and Plymouth - to bury the hatchet and work together towards establishing university provision in Cornwall.

Former St Ives MP David Harris, the Conservatives' leading spokesman for Cornwall called for an end to the apparent behind the scenes feuding, and his call has been echoed by Bill Hill, principal of St Austell College who is calling on the Government Office of the South West to broker a deal between the two.

Mr Harris fears that the county could be in danger of falling completely between the Exeter and Plymouth universities stools and getting nothing at all unless there was an agreed plan on the way forward.

"It is clear from public statements and letters to newspapers that a number of prominent people are collecting around what appears to be two rival camps," said Mr Harris.

"We have Exeter's scheme for a campus outside Penzance, which I have always supported, and what is bound to be seen as something of a rival bid to develop Cornwall College and Plymouth University's activities.

"What worries me is that a county divided is not likely to make progress in this vitally important area as Ministers will probably take the line that the necessary funding should go elsewhere in these circumstances.

"It is essential that the two universities, starting with their vice chancellors Sir Geoffrey Holland and Dr John Bull, get together, hopefully to produce joint proposals for the develoment of university education in Cornwall as a step towards the eventual establishment of an independent university of Cornwall."

Handled properly, Mr Harris added, there could still be a campus at Penzance, coupled with sensible development of existing institutions, such as Cornwall College and Falmouth College of Arts.

Mr Hill was of the same mind. "I would lend my support to the Government Office of the South West acting as brokers between the major higher education institutes of Plymouth and Exeter because we do need these universities involved in what is going to happen."

He was concerned, however that if the Government Office of the South West had major reservations about spending money on the Trereife site, then now was the time to say so.

He said there were a number of other initiatives in the pipeline awaiting funding, all held up because no decision had been made about Trereife.

While saying he would back the campus if there were no alternatives, Mr Hill doubted the wisdom of spending £10 million of European funding, plus any matched funding on moving the Camborne School of Mines from one place to another, unless there was very much more in the way of enhancement.

He also expressed doubt about the economic value for Cornwall of a campus at Trereife.

"While I can understand the motive for choosing the site, I can also see the arguments for it being more central. It would be good for Penzance, but geographically it is a little bit further out than would be ideal."

Mr Hill said Sir Geoffrey Holland should be complimented on his efforts to raise the profile of higher education in Comwall.

"If the outcome of such an initiative is we end up with investment in academic and research facilities which considerably add to what we have got in Cornwall, then I don't think anyone would think it was a bad idea" he added.

Copyright © Cornish Weekly Newspapers Ltd 1998

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