The man in control of one of Preston’s biggest employers has signalled a change in strategy from the university.Advertisement
Vice-chancellor Professor Mike Thomas said the University of Central Lancashire was becoming ‘more Preston-focused’.
The university, which began in the city in 1828, had previously pursued a more ‘internationalist’ expansion strategy which saw it lose millions of pounds with campuses being built in the Far East.
In a speech at the university’s Kaleidoscope event, showcasing more than 30 projects and businesses being developed at the city’s campus, Prof Thomas signalled a move away from what the previous regime had been pursuing.
He said: “In 2018 we will celebrate 190 years in this city. And we are proud to be a part of Preston, and we want to be a part of it, playing an active role.
“You will see the intent with the £200m masterplan and I want to see the cranes back on the skyline of Preston. There haven’t been many big building projects in this city for a long time.
“We have more than 3,000 staff in Preston and I want us to be active in the city, not passive.
“I also want the university to be a force for cultural and civic good. We have a role to play in the future of this city and we must be a partner in that.”
He also hinted the university was due to become more involved with colleges in and around Preston, as UCLan is working on a major project with further education colleges such as Preston’s College and Runshaw.
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Prof Thomas continued: “The changing world is not only about making discoveries and creating new technologies. We are also in the business of moulding informed leaders, creative thinkers and bold business minds. We are a University where committed people are inspired to develop their ideas and dreams.
“Realising the potential of a civic University to ‘reach out’ to the community will not only depend on what the University does but also on the capacity of our local and regional partners to work together and ‘reach into’ the University.”
He also said the university was planning 190 events throughout 2019 to celebrate its anniversary.
The university has made two high profile appointments which also have a Preston focus. Chairman of its board David Taylor lives in the Preston area and is involved with Preston North End, while new Chancellor TV presenter Ranvir Singh is Preston born and bred.
Chair of the University Board David Taylor said: “The fantastic work on view was just a glimpse of an incredibly exciting future for the University. Our £200 million Masterplan is moving from the planning to the construction phase and we are very keen to work with local employers on new and emerging educational models such as degree apprenticeships, two year degrees and earn-as-you-learn programmes. We’re a leader in field of entrepreneurship and have great international links.”
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Mr Taylor also used his speech to explain the Brexit vote was already causing issues for the university, with feedback from international students and prospective international students saying they ‘felt unwanted’ following the vote.
What do you make of Professor Thomas’ comments? Do you work or study at UCLan? Let us know in the comments below