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13 January, 2006 - 12:01 By News Desk

£35m Cranfield move to boost natural resources and health capabilities

Cranfield University is to transfer the vast majority of its Silsoe campus operation to its Cranfield base over the next two years as part of a £35 million investment programme.The money will be pumped into the areas of natural resources and health and is intended to develop teaching and research capabilities. The migration will include the provision of new buildings to serve the expanded requirement at Cranfield for teaching and social facilities, as well as for accommodation.

The investment programme should generate greater income for the postgraduate University, which relies on its mature relationship with the wider non-academic world for the majority of its revenues. Some job losses are also expected from the move, though numbers are currently unavailable.

The University has developed very close partnerships with commercial and public sector bodies alike over the years by providing technological innovation to truly meet the needs of industry. Last year it won a £366 million contract to train MoD service and civilian personnel for the next 22 years.

Silsoe is the hub of the Cranfield’s environmental and Life Sciences activity and the consolidation programme will focus on two departments: Natural resources and the entirely new area, health.

Cranfield believes bringing them onto a single site will enable the University to take full advantage of its holistic approach, which will increase revenues and provide graduates that are capable of moving across a range of areas.

Cranfield deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Clifford Friend, said: “Looking at health and the outside market, which is very much the Cranfield way, most problems develop because it is very multi-disciplinary.

“The majority of those who study in this field tend to have a stovepipe view. We believe there are very few people who can tackle this. However, we can stretch across a very wide area from management through health, through to technology and provide a very different offering.

“The mode of operation here is a holistic view over both areas. We need to bring all our resources together. As it is at the moment, health provides an income of around £4 million. We expect that to double in three years. Over five to 10 years, if it’s reached the status of a full five school, it can potentially double again.”

Cranfield’s work within natural resources and health is already widely recognised and has a reputation for groundbreaking achievements in diagnostics and management of the earth’s natural resources.

Plans for the move and consolidation were endorsed by the University’s Council in December following a consultation process with all the staff, students and partners involved with the University.

It believes that the Cranfield campus offers the best opportunity for synergy between the newly enhanced areas of natural resources and health and other areas of the university.

The changes to natural resources will create a stronger offering in its teaching and research, which had previously been offered separately at the two sites.

It will form a new department within the School of Industrial and Manufacturing Science and focus on the global need to address technical, environmental, economic and social issues in a holistic fashion.

The aim is to maintain and enhance the world’s natural resources and to place them at the heart of economic strategy.

Cranfield Health will focus on health research, education and consultancy and will combine science technology, human factors and management to provide new solutions for the health sector. The new school will draw on Cranfield’s roots in medical physics, bioscience and related diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

Prof Friend said: “We’ve been looking for really exciting areas that can enable us to expand into new areas of impact. One is health, the other is environmental, natural resources. Previously the health department has been very virtual; we’ve never had it together.

“Natural resources will be moving by autumn because we already have the real estate needed for that. Health requires broader integration and new build is involved, including a new facility with bioscience labs. Completion of that is targeted for autumn 2007.”

Around 27,000 sq ft of new lab space is expected to be housed in a building that covers around 35,000 sq ft in total. As well as a new faculty building, the Cranfield development will include new residential halls for 250 more students, additional catering, social facilities and a new sports hall.

The fields used to grow crops for research will continue their function, which is expected to be the only remnant of Cranfield University at Silsoe.

Jobs will go, though Prof Friend said Union talks were ongoing and that the University would do as much as it could to redeploy staff.


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