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University of Cornwall News

7th May

Women 's trust pledges over £2m to university

The following articles appeared in today's The Cornishman:

MP and Sir Geoffrey in renewed bids for campus

Chief Reporter

A WEST Cornwall based International trust, dedicated to the history of women, confirmed yesterday that it was prepared to invest between £2 and £3 million into the University for Cornwall -as long as the campus is sited at Trereife.

Melissa Hardie of Newmill, a trustee of the International Hypatia Trust, told The Cornishman that the Hypatia Institute, embracing library, research facilities and learning and teaching programmes is proposing to set up its headquarters at Trereife, as part of a larger university campus.

"We don't have the cash in our pocket to write a check, but we do have potential. We have an international networks of friends, some of whom are very wealthy," explained Ms Hardie.

"It is the concept of a university for Cornwall - at Trereife - which we wish to support. I want this to be seen as a positive contribution by women to higher education in cornwall - a contribution by women to the economy of Cornwall."

"Half of our books are in the Exeter University library and we are interested in creating our own library and research institute as part of the campus which students and the public could use," she explained.

The women's group offer has coincided with a call [for] renewed vigor in the university for Cornwall campaign by St Ives MP, Andrew George, following a Bank Holiday meeting in Penzance with key supporters of the university initiative, and Exeter University Vice-chancellor, Sir Geoffrey Holland.

On Tuesday, the MP revealed that there will shortly be a series of high level talks to "thrash the whole thing out."

Mr. George said: "We must hold out for the real thing - Cornwall must not be fobbed off with some half-baked initiative."

Mr. George's comments co-incided with Sir Geoffrey welcoming the comments of his Plymouth University counterpart in last week's Cornishman, underlining the importance of a combined and concerted approach of 'working together' to ensure the initiative becomes a reality.

Cornwall's needs for a university are urgent - and there is no time to be lost, Sir Geoffrey Holland, said on Tuesday.

The abolition of maintenance grants for students this autumn, which means that students will be expected to contribute up to £1,000 a year towards tuition, will put the county at a serious disadvantage, unless there is a major and rapid expansion of opportunities - an expansion which no one institution can provide by itself, he said.

Because for so long young people have been leaving Cornwall and not returning, Cornwall, he says, needs to be able to attract national and international students as well as provide much better opportunities for Cornish residents themselves.

"Contrary, perhaps, to popular belief, the higher education institutions in Cornwall are already working together on many projects, not least in the field of information technology," he said.

Sir Geoffrey, commended Professor John Bull of Plymouth University for publicly stating that he was backing the call for the two universities to work together to provide facilities in Cornwall.

"What is needed now is for all the interested parties to sit down and work out how best to achieve the development of higher education in Cornwall," said Sir Geoffrey.

He explained: "Within the last fortnight I have put specific proposals for what should happen next and in what framework, to both Government and the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Those proposals received a warm welcome and are being discussed with other parties.

"In my view any forum that is now convened should be chaired initially by Government, which, at long last, and not least thanks to the efforts of Exeter University as well as others, has woken up to the urgent need that Cornwall has."

"Cornwall's needs" he added, are great and urgent. Cornwall needs opportunities across the whole range," he has said, highlighting: sub-degree opportunities (diplomas) to meet local need; full degrees, full or part-time for young people and adults; a strong research and postgraduate presence to stimulate industry and commerce, and, because higher degree courses in themselves achieve nothing, much wider economic regeneration provision also needs to be made - labs, work-shops, technology transfer and innovation centres, a conference centre, business start-up units.

Mr. George meanwhile has said: "a very substantial development is essential.

"We should not be diverted by the gloom merchants who tell us that having the bulk of our university on one site is not possible.

The MP says he is confident that the combination of Ministerial intervention and securing European Objective 1 status will see a Cornish University College off the ground.

MP 'fighting to retain just what we've got'

THE Government has failed to take a proactive lead in helping Cornwall in its campaign to establish a university college, the St Ives MP, Andrew George, claimed this week.

"Instead, he said, "it has stood on the side lines and simply observed as Cornwall has struggled to find the necessary funding to turn the project into a reality."

Looking back over a year of Labour Government, Mr. George added: "I don't think that is what people thought they were voting for when they got a Labour Government. Some of the more ambitious plans for Cornwall may have to be put on hold while we fight to retain what we have."

He says that a busy first year in office was marked by an endless 12 month battle to retain existing industries and services in Cornwall.

Following his election last May, he set out a number of key goals in his maiden speech, which he believes are desirable developments for the future. These include: the economic development of Cornwall and Scilly and a Cornish Development Agency, the improvement of high education facilities and the establishment of a university college - and the securing of a fair deal of the national resource.

"Instead of fighting to achieve these, I soon found myself having to fight a rear guard action to defend what we have for the community. There has been little change in the defensive action we have been taking over the last 18 years," said Mr. George.

"In particular I have had to fight to combat declining economic prospects with further factory closures at St Ivel and Finns and the closure of South Crofty mine and many other problems faced on the economic front. The Government has also failed to live up to its promise of helping to establish a Cornish Development Agency."

The MP added: "We have had to and will continue to fight to retain our hospitals and health services.

"We now find ourselves having to make the case to protect public services - especially resources for our schools where many face cuts in staff and resources this year."

"I am," he said, "determined that we shall succeed, but I would have preferred being in a position to develop new initiatives, rather than fighting to retain what we have.

"The fight is going to be tougher than I had previously anticipated, but I am determined to ensure that we succeed."

Copyright © Cornish Weekly Newspapers Ltd 1998

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