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7 October, 2009 - 15:29 By Staff Reporter

Milton Keynes University plans progress

The University of Bedfordshire says ambitious plans for a fully fledged university based in Milton Keynes have taken another major step following progress at a key planning phase.

Work can now focus on putting together a full business plan following acceptance of Bedfordshire’s Statement of Intent to lead the development at the University Centre Milton Keynes (UCMK).

Success at this final stage will lead to a significant expansion in student numbers and a wider range of degree courses as well as closer links with the business community for the UCMK, which launched one only a year ago.

The University of Bedfordshire is the lead institution in the bid to expand support for UCMK which currently offers foundation degrees, a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), an executive MBA and other professional qualifications.

UCMK is the region’s newest HE institution, just one year older than University Campus Suffolk, which launched in 2007. Its development is part of the UK Government’s new ‘University Challenge’ initiative, which aims to open up opportunities for towns and cities and drive economic regeneration by creating up to 20 new HE centres by 2014.

Milton Keynes is already home to the Open University, but that is a distance learning HE institution, UCMK is the town’s first dedicated university in the more traditional sense.

UCMK has been developed from a collaboration led by Milton Keynes College and Milton Keynes Partnership and partnered by the University of Bedfordshire as well as the University of Northampton, the Open University and the University of Warwick.

University of Bedfordshire vice chancellor, Professor Les Ebdon, said: “As lead institution we are delighted to have been successful at this key stage and now go forward to present the full business plan on this project.

“UCMK which opened last September is a fine example of a successful and long-standing initiative in Milton Keynes to deliver, local, high quality higher education provision to this new city.

“Milton Keynes is an increasingly important regional economy positioned for substantial further growth. It has a pressing need for a higher education institution which can up-skill and equip the local workforce for these challenges and new opportunities. Together with our partners the University of Bedfordshire can play a key role in doing this.”

UCMK dean, Dr Keith Straughan, said: “We welcome the announcement and are delighted that our ambitious plans for UCMK have received national recognition.

“We have demonstrated that there is a clear demand for university provision in Milton Keynes to serve the local and regional economy. We believe that our innovative ideas for higher education and our effective partnerships make us well-placed to develop a stunning university provision here. This opportunity presents a wonderful next step on that journey.”

Dr Ann Limb, Chair of the Milton Keynes Higher Education Board, added: “This is a landmark announcement in the city’s long journey towards its own local university. The city is committed to working imaginatively with UCMK’s partners to deliver a resource which will underpin the city’s ambition to be a significant knowledge economy of national prominence.”

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