Wirral could be one of a handful of venues across the country to benefit from a new and convenient higher education facility, giving all residents the choice of learning closer to home.
Earlier this year, the Higher Education Funding Council for England proposal, A new University Challenge – Unlocking Britain’s talent, outlined the Government’s aspiration to see up to twenty new Higher Education Centres, developed.
The Government outlined two main objectives for the new facilities:
To unlock the potential of Towns and People
To help drive economic growth
Although Wirral has above average levels of residents with University qualifications, the Council’s Investment Strategy and the Government recognise that there are significant pockets of inequality in the Borough’s deprived areas where educational attainment is low.
In response, the Council, in partnership with the University of Chester and Wirral Metropolitan College, has been working hard to develop a proposal for a new University of Chester facility for Wirral. Crucially the proposal has secured the support of the Northwest Development Agency and Wirral’s Investment Strategy Board. It also has the support of the University of Liverpool.
Wirral Council’s Cabinet will consider (on the 27th of November) the proposal. A detailed application will be submitted to the Higher Education Funding Council early in the new year, with a decision expected in the Spring.
Wirral Council Leader Steve Foulkes: “I am proud to support the bid for the new facility that would play an important part in delivering the skills elements of our Investment Strategy. A new Higher Education facility is critically important to the future of Wirral. It could both unlock the talents of our residents and play a critical role in our work to develop a more competitive and innovative economy locally. This new venture would maximise the opportunities available to both local people and the communities in which they live.
“We are absolutely committed to unlocking the talent of Wirral people by ensuring they can access higher level skills training that will enable them to compete for quality jobs in Wirral and beyond.”
Chief Executive of the Northwest Development Agency, Steven Broomhead: “I am pleased to support this important and much needed proposal. A Higher Education facility would enable more people from Wirral’s deprived areas to access Higher Education. I am particularly pleased at the close working relationship that has developed locally between Wirral Metropolitan College and the University. Excellent partnership working between Further and Higher Education is crucial if we are to maximise the number of local people who benefit.”
The University of Chester’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tim Wheeler: “The University looks forward to working in partnership over the coming months to deliver this significant opportunity for Wirral. We are committed to ensuring that Wirral people reap the benefits of this major economic regeneration opportunity and have the chance, both to realise their learning potential and therefore enhance their quality of life.”
Principal of Wirral Metropolitan College, Mike Potter: “I have no doubt that if our partnership is successful in securing Government funding available through the University Challenge, this exciting new partnership will provide our local community, particularly those in most need, with a real chance to access and develop their career chances and choices. Education and training, particularly at the higher level, unlocks potential and this new facility will allow individuals to develop and extend their career prospects, whilst providing local employers with a pool of talented, well trained people. Wirral Metropolitan College is delighted to be an integral part of this bid.“