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Internal News - 01 March 2007

Council approves withdrawal from the Gateway project

University Council has agreed the University should withdraw from the Swindon Gateway project and review its strategy for Oakfield.

Since the Senate meeting last month, the Vice-Chancellor has sought views from staff, members of Court and other stakeholders on the recommendation from Senate to Council to withdraw from the Swindon Gateway project.

This consultation revealed widespread support for the recommendation. No new information emerged to challenge the initial analysis of the Gateway site’s potential or the likely government investment priorities for higher education following the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) 2007.

As a result, Council was advised the risk associated with the development of a new campus in Swindon had increased significantly. Proposed changes to the funding methodologies for research and teaching, coupled with likely changes to priorities for the future allocation of additional student numbers, were identified as particular threats to the recurrent income required for the financial sustainability of the new campus.

Council was also advised its decision was unlikely to impact on the University’s future success because of the effort that has been made to create alternative development opportunities whilst simultaneously pursuing the Swindon Gateway vision:

The decision to withdraw from the Gateway project does not imply a decision to withdraw from Swindon. Whilst the development of a major, new campus no longer appears consistent with the government’s priorities for higher education, much of the activity at the Oakfield Campus is already closely aligned with these priorities.

Indeed, activities such as the Western Vocational Lifelong Learning Network and the Higher Level Skills Pathfinder Project, are in the vanguard of developing the flexible approaches to curriculum delivery that the government is encouraging the sector to explore.

However, until now, the Oakfield Campus has been part of a larger, ‘distributed’ campus model in the University’s plans for Swindon. Consequently, in withdrawing from the Gateway Project, Council identified a need to review the University’s strategy for Oakfield.

Further details of this review will be published in due course.