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New 1,000-student university institute to be built in Telford

By Mat Growcott | Telford | News | Published:

Plans for a new 1,000-student university institute on the banks of Southwater Lake in Telford have been unveiled today.

The proposed design of the new building

The new institute will be the final piece of the jigsaw in the £250 million Southwater project, on which building work started in 2010, if planning permission is granted.

Courses offered will offer a strong focus on digital and information and communications technology, including cloud computing, artificial intelligence, gaming and cyber security.

The work would be the result of a partnership between Telford & Wrekin Council and the University of Wolverhampton, and work is expected to begin in 2020, ready for students in 2021.

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Richard Overton, deputy leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, said today: "This is the final piece of the jigsaw for Southwater.

"The digital economy is growing here in Telford. Digitechnology is the future and we want to get student to deliver on that basis.

"Southwater is an iconic place in Telford and I'm sure the students will have lots of things to do as well go to university. It's a fantastic area to be educated.

The proposed design of the new building

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"We need children to be educated in the digital economy. We'll be working with colleges and businesses to see what their needs are."

The University of Wolverhampton has had a presence in Telford for the last 25 years, most recently with a section at the top of Southwater One.

Councillor Overton said: "For the university to have their own building would be a massive investment and would give young people the best education we can give them, and it would encourage others to come to Telford as well.

"We had Telford's 50th birthday last year which got lots of visitors to the town. To have an establishment here that will reach further afield and be educated here and hopefully stay when they see what marvellous facilities we have here is another win for Telford. The future is bright for the town."

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Professor Geoff Layer, vice-chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton said: "All those years ago when Ironbridge was first built it was the start of the industrial revolution – we're now at the start of the fourth industrial revolution. It requires different skill sets and working patterns and what we're going to bring here is a massive development for the borough of Telford & Wrekin.

"The next stage is the digital economy. It is all about the development of the 2025 economy, not today's economy.

"We've had a campus in Telford for 25 years, and we've recently just announced major expansion plans for Priorslee. We've been at the top floor of Southwater One for a number of years. We've been thinking what more we can do.

"If you look at Telford it's a fast growing economy, it's changing, and what people want to do is develop their skills so they can contribute to their workforce.

"What we're saying, with the council, is let's develop a new way of studying, looking at how we think about young people in the borough so we equip the workforce going forward."

The next step for the development will see the council work with ocal employers colleges and schools to shape the plans.

The partners are also exploring a range of funding routes which will inform the final business case and design of the building which will be subject to detailed planning permission.

Telford has been recognised as having the fastest housing growth by Centre for Cities and has seen over £236 million of private sector investment delivering in excess of 1,000 new jobs in the last three years through the Telford Land Deal.

Mat Growcott

By Mat Growcott
Reporter - @MGrowcott_Star

Shropshire Star reporter

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