With a big fanfare (okay, just a press release — ‘Plans for a major university in Swindon have moved a step closer’ — a news article and a short leader article), Swindon Borough Council has announced that The University of the West of England has firmed up its interest in opening a branch in Swindon. We are told that it will be ‘a unique learning institution in the town centre.’ We are also told that it will offer about 3000 places, probably in North Star, primarily for vocational training.
It is intended that the new university will focus on the strengths of the Swindon economy, such as advanced engineering, financial services, ICT, health and social care and the heritage industry.
We will deliver teaching to employees while they work. The courses will be bespoke to the individual needs of employers like Honda and Intel. We are also looking at delivering heritage courses, which aren’t available elsewhere.
That’s about a third of the size of the existing University of Bath in Swindon and covering a very similar range of subjects. It is difficult to see what will be unique about the new campus apart from its minute size. It is quite a feat of exaggeration to describe it as ‘a major university in Swindon’.
Presumably this should mean that the Gateway plans are now dead… unless someone can be persuaded to provide a proper university for Swindon.