Anglia Ruskin named as higher education partner for new Cambridgeshire university

This is how the new University of Peterborough may look. Picture: CPCA

This is how the new University of Peterborough may look. Picture: CPCA - Credit: Archant

Anglia Ruskin University have officially been announced as the higher education partner for another Cambridgeshire university.

At an online launch ceremony for the University of Peterborough announcement yesterday (Tuesday), James Palmer, mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority said: “Thank you everybody for joining us today – over the past 20 years Peterborough has enjoyed rapid economic and population growth and was ranked the fastest growing city in the UK between 2001 and 2011.

“It is a city of great opportunity and great ambition that business creation in Peterborough is 25 per cent higher than the UK average.

“Its proximity to London and low land costs make it fertile ground for new and growing companies. It’s also a city of aspiration, ranked sixth in the UK in 2015 due to the number of patents registered here.

“However, while businesses in Peterborough have expanded at break-neck speed and grown, it remains in the bottom 10 areas in the country for educational skills and training.

“Only one in five 18-25-year olds in Peterborough are in full time adult education and one in every eight people in Peterborough aged 16-64 have no qualifications at all.

“As a result, local businesses struggle to recruit the staff they need, and this has led to a suffocation of the overall prosperity of Peterborough and its surrounding areas.

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“This new £30 million University for Peterborough will breathe new life into the city and the region it will help to empower people with the skills and education that they need to find jobs and careers that will be fulfilling and rewarding and in turn create a new generation of a pipeline of skills workers to meet the needs of emerging markets so that businesses in Peterborough can truly flourish.

“As leader of the Combined Authority, alongside Peterborough City Council have the pleasure to formally announce and welcome Anglia Ruskin University as the higher education partner for this new university which will be known, initially, as ‘ARU Peterborough’, until it becomes fully independent which is the ultimate goal and which is something that we are all working towards.

“It will be a first of its kind in the UK; ARU Peterborough will be an ‘employment focused’ university, a technical university with a curriculum that Anglia Ruskin University will help to deliver, designed to boost the skills of workers in key-employment sectors across the area.

“We have taken a great deal of care to look at the local economy and the needs of Peterborough’s economy before setting up this university.

“It is estimated that within a current workforce of around 100,000 the city needs to be able to mobilise around 17,000 more people with degrees to become competitive both locally and globally.

“The university will be a huge step-forward in this regard, creating a ‘knowledge engine’ that will drive increased workforce skills to raise business productivity, innovation and the knowledge intensity of products and services that we produce here.

“But, filling the higher education gap in Peterborough is only half the story – without measures to continue the growth of industrial demand for those skills it would put us in danger of producing more graduates without graduate jobs for them to fill.

“Which is why there is a longer-term plan for the university to generate more industry and more jobs within the city.

“Like all universities, the University of Peterborough will, in time, produce PhD students, generating new research and technology. That’s great because after all the UK is one of the most prolific generators of new academic and scientific discoveries in the world.

“Now we can translate all that great science and technologies to drop onto new products, that are better value for money than our competitors, generating growth for firms and higher value jobs for us.

“One of the key requirements for myself was that this university should be one of the most impactive.

“Therefore, to ensure maximum impact to deliver on the Prime Minister’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program, we will build a teaching university out of ground on the embankment of the River Nene in Peterborough where not only local, but global firms will be able to design and scope a different and innovative eco-system around it.

“There will be £20m worth of growth-coaching and growth-investment, a new local investment agency to connect into UK Embassy’s around the world, skills brokerage to connect those seeking new and better jobs.

“The centre-piece of all of this will be a ‘research super-hub’ to act as a key connection between the university and local business for innovation-based growth.

“We are talking to several global technology firms and half a dozen other universities to potentially create something very special here – a research super-hub which combines this university with several others to create multiple research teams working with local and global firms across materials, manufacturing, digital and environmental disciplines to create the products of tomorrow and the new high-value jobs that graduates of this innovative new university of Peterborough deserve.

“This employment-based university and the innovation eco-system that we will build around it will meet the demands of businesses in the short-term and over the longer-term, driving technological innovation that will transform knowledge-intensity of products, services and jobs in this city.

“This is not a university where you go to simply get a degree. This where you will come to get a career. All this will drastically improve the life-prospects of people in the city of Peterborough and across the region, enhancing as it does the reputation of ‘GB plc’.”

“It is my absolute pleasure to introduce Professor Roderick Watkins to talk about Anglia Ruskin University’s involvement in this project.”

Professor Roderick Watkins was appointed vice chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University in February 2019, although he first joined ARU in 2014, as Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of Arts, Law and Social Sciences, before being appointed deputy vice chancellor (Research and Innovation) in 2015.

Prior to joining ARU, Professor Watkins was Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Canterbury Christ Church University, where he was appointed Professor of Composition and Contemporary Music in 2005.

Addressing the online meeting, Professor Watkins said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be announced as the university partner in this exciting project with the University of Peterborough and the wider region.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for us to bring together the particular strength and focus of ARU with the needs and ambitions of our region.

“We’re not a conventional university nor have we ever been. Our strength lies in our innovative, inclusive and entrepreneurial approach and the diversity of our people and our campuses.

“At the heart of ARU are our students – and they are remarkable. Many have not previously had the opportunity to demonstrate their potential to achieve success and really experience the delight of learning.

“Many have had to overcome real hurdles to get to university. Many, indeed most, are mature students, for example.

“What matters is what our students achieve when they’re with us and the positive change that they bring to their world as graduates.

“Our approach is clearly working – just last month we were named in the graduate outcomes survey as one of the top ten mainstream universities in the country – and top in our region – for graduate employment.

“We’re fifth in the country for employment and/or further study. We were second for the proportion of part-time UK graduates in full-time employment fifteen months after graduating with 97% in employment or further study.

“So, we have the ‘know-how’ to design and deliver education that transforms lives and builds careers. We are a leader in innovative work-based learning, working in partnership with employers and we’re one of the UK’s largest providers of degree apprenticeships.

“As many of you will know we have worked in Peterborough for a number of years in partnership with the excellent local NHS Trust and local hospitals, and we look forward to developing these vital relationships even further.

“The training of future key workers has been central to who we are for over twenty-five years, and will continue to be so.

“You may have seen last month’s announcement, for example, that we have been selected as the university provider for all Police education right across the East of England for the next five years.

“So, our job now – and our privilege – is to being all that experience and ambition to Peterborough, and working in partnership with the Combined Authority, Peterborough City Council and businesses, schools and colleges across the region, to design and deliver and outstanding, bespoke, employment-focussed, modern University for Peterborough.

“We will work closely with regional employers and regional schools and colleges to develop a portfolio of courses that fully reflect employer-need, as well as student demand.

“We will focus on technical and professional education across business, technology, science, health and education, and our courses will be rigorously focused on ensuring high-quality graduate outcomes.

“We will mix on-campus, face-to-face teaching with off-campus, work-based learning, including degree apprenticeships.

“Our success, and the success of the city of Peterborough are now inextricably linked and we’re proud to serve this city and its people and committed to work together to build a strong, resilient and sustainable future.

“And we look forward to welcoming the first students to ARU Peterborough – both on and off-campus – in September 2022.”

Cllr John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council and a long-term supporter of the University of Peterborough project was delighted at the announcements, and said: “Over the past few months the people of Peterborough have been hit very hard, but today is proof that we have a bright future ahead of us and there is prosperity beyond the pandemic.

“Regeneration has been a key feature of Peterborough for some time – we’ve transformed many parts of the city: Fletton Quays and the city centre are such examples and we’re by no means finished yet.

“Fletton Quays as a site has already been set-up with the new Hilton Hotel and the site for a government hub anchored by the new Passport Office is due to commence shortly.

“Our city centre local development framework identifies plans for key areas to be developed in the coming years, such as the station-quarter, north Westgate as well as Rivergate.

“The project that we’re launching today will have a huge impact, not only in what the city will look like in twenty years’ time, but on the opportunities available to our residents, the success of our businesses and informing external perceptions of Peterborough.

“It is also part of our progress from small to medium city status which is one where we will become an even more attractive place to live in, work and set-up business.

“Establishing the University of Peterborough will bring immeasurable benefits to our residents, for people across the wider region and for our businesses.

“Both now, and for generations to come, our residents will be helped into well-paid, more sustainable jobs and evolving skills and knowledge requirements of the 21st Century.

“This will provide local employers with graduates with the skills they want from a higher education system tailored for their needs and will put a stop to our talented young people leaving the city to learn and set-up businesses elsewhere.

“Some of them will now be encouraged – we hope – to put their roots into our wonderful city and raise families and start businesses here.

“For existing businesses, it will ensure a good crop of graduates to choose from when advertising for jobs, people who have been trained in skills that they need to thrive in their work environment.

“Other parts of our economy will benefit from [areas] such as digital skills, low-carbon tech, health care and medical technology as well as the softer skills such as teamwork, communications, property development, problem solving, internal and personal skills and personal resilience.

“Better skilled employees will in turn help our businesses thrive and prosper and for our city as a whole, the presence of a university will make Peterborough a more desirable place for families to come and live, stay and build a future.

“I am delighted that we will have the University of Peterborough here in our city, that it will open on time and that we have chosen in Anglia Riskin University the right partner to help deliver a first class, higher education curriculum package for our university.

“As it develops and grows, it will play an important part in our city’s economy, cultural and social life.

“We look forward not only the commencement of construction later this year, hopefully breaking soil in October or November 2020, but to the day in autumn 2022 when we will be able to welcome our first intake of students.

“On behalf of Peterborough City Council, I can assure you that we are doing everything within our power to ensure that the University of Peterborough is a real success and becomes a vital part of our future.

“We’re already blessed to have a city with a beautiful cathedral, and now a new university built on a green and attractive riverside campus location will ensure it helps to make our invitation to come to Peterborough even stronger.

“I’m delighted that we have announced ARU to be our higher education delivery partner for the University of Peterborough, its needs, and the people and businesses of the city of Peterborough deserve.

“I would like to give my personal thanks to Professor Roderick Watkins, vice-chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University and to mayor James Palmer of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority for all your support with this project.”