UNIVERSITY chiefs are to charge students £3,000 a year to study in Crewe as they look to revamp the MMU Cheshire campus for the 21st Century.
Millions of pounds have been spent building a 800-place halls of residence in Crewe Green Road, and the extra cash from fees could help to transform the town into a bustling centre of educational excellence.
Critics, including Crewe and Nantwich MP Gwyneth Dunwoody, have slammed Government proposals for higher tuition fees, fearing they could jeopardise the academic future of teenagers from hard-up families.
But the MMU says help will be on hand for struggling families, with a bursary of up to £1,000 a year available to those who pass the means test.
In return for the fees hike, students will receive top-class accommodation, a vast range of courses, highly skilled staff and entertainment on their doorstep.
Closure of the MMU's Alsager site will see Crewe's student population double to 12,000, cementing the town's reputation as a recognised seat of learning.
The new £50m halls complex, dubbed the 'Gateway to Crewe', will include a pub and hotel, following an announcement by developer Pochin this week that it has signed contracts with the J W Lees brewery and Travelodge.
Dennis Dunn, dean of MMU Cheshire, said: 'The fee increases agreed under the Education Act will give us the extra cash we need to press ahead with building developments and maintain the highest standards in education.
'The new halls are now the first thing you see as you approach Crewe from the M6, and we hope this will symbolise Crewe's future as a university town.
'We want to rebuild the entire campus over the next eight years to create a 21st Century complex which will rival anything in the country.
'But we also understand students are concerned about debt, so we will be committing a third of the additional income from fees to support those who are less able to pay.'
Economists are thrilled at the prospect of a mass influx of students spending their money in Crewe.
Their arrival will also coincide with the opening of the town centre Phoenix Leisure Park in the autumn.