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Press Release - 14 February 2007

University of Bath reconsiders proposed new campus at Gateway, Swindon

At a meeting held this afternoon, the University’s Senate discussed a number of developments that have been occurring in relation to the Gateway project, including the revised site Masterplan and publicly announced changes to the strategic investment priorities for the higher education sector. After due consideration of these factors, Senate decided to recommend to the University’s Council that the University should withdraw from the Gateway project. This recommendation will form the main item of business when Council meets on 1 March 2007. Only the University Council has the power to make this decision.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Glynis Breakwell, explained:

“In embarking on a large scale project, with a long lead in time, there is always a risk that key factors may change as the project plan develops. Senate concluded that two recent changes, one at a national level and one at a local level, call into question the viability of delivering the University’s long held vision of an iconic, new campus in Swindon.

“At national level, the Government’s priorities for the future development of higher education are shifting towards increased opportunities for study whilst in the workplace. Universities are therefore being encouraged to adopt radical new approaches to undergraduate education. Our vision for Gateway was of a traditional campus which would fill the provision gap that exists in Swindon and Wiltshire. We now think that a new campus of this nature would not fit the Government’s expansion priorities and there may be other ways to do the job.

“In addition, locally, the revised Masterplan for the Gateway site, presented to us by the developers Persimmon and Redrow last November, requires a density of development that it is inconsistent with our original campus model.”

Clearly, the University now needs to have the widest consultation possible before Council meets. There will be further discussion internally and externally over the next two weeks. Senate was aware other information may emerge during that time and recommended that it should be given appropriate consideration.

The University has worked closely with Swindon Borough Council over ten years to develop higher education in Swindon. It already supports a range of successful initiatives at its existing Oakfield Campus. Last year we had 1,061 registrations on our part-time education courses, and we are currently delivering undergraduate education for 54 students at Oakfield and providing courses, in collaboration with local further education colleges, for some 284 students in Swindon and Wiltshire. Other initiatives include the Small Business Hub, the Swindon Innovation Centre, the Western Vocational Lifelong Learning Network and the Swindon SCITT (School-centred initial teacher training). The University will continue to engage with Swindon Borough Council about the development of higher education in the town and remains committed to the work that it does at the Oakfield Campus.

Further information from Peter Reader, Director of Marketing and Communications, University of Bath, on 01225 386285 or 07966 341321, or University Press Office, on 01225 386883

Notes to Editors

(1) The Government’s priorities for higher education have been articulated in the recent annual grant letter from the Secretary of State to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), published on the Funding Council’s website at: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/news/hefce/2007/grant/letter.htm

The Leitch Review of Skills forms part of the evidence base for the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 which will determine public spending priorities for the period 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11.

(2) The Gateway project, involving Persimmon and Redrow, the Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust, and the University of Bath, planned to develop a major site at the south-eastern edge of Swindon, to the north-west of junction 15 of the M4, for a 150-acre university campus, an extension to the Great Western Hospital (which is located adjacent to the site), 1,800 houses, and a business park.

The University of Bath is one of the UK's leading universities, with an international reputation for quality research and teaching. View a full list of the University's press releases: http://www.bath.ac.uk/news/