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Wolverhampton University to spend £250 million in huge investment

Staffordshire | News | Published:

The University of Wolverhampton is splashing out £250 million over the next five years in a 'once in a lifetime' investment.

The university will spend a fortune to boost economic growth and job prospects across the Black Country.

Bosses at the university feel they have a key role to play in the future of Wolverhampton and the Black Country.

They want to create jobs in industry and bring new forms of employment to the area in an investment project that has been two years in the making.

Vice-chancellor Professor Geoff Layer proclaimed: "We're in a position of unparalleled strength."

Professor Geoff Layer

Money will be spent on a host of ongoing projects, including the £65m Springfield Brewery construction college and a £10m health college in West Bromwich.

The university is also building a £25m science block and an £18m business school.

Those projects will take up a big chunk of the huge cash outlay but chiefs said the unprecedented investment was about far more than buildings.

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Research, recently hailed as 'world class', is being heavily invested in, while staff are being hired and new courses in chemical engineering, chemistry and economics are being launched.

And the university is working with councils and local enterprise partnerships to boost economic growth and create jobs.

Professor Layer added: "We're in the best place we've ever been.

"The university has positioned itself as a major instrument of economic growth in the Black Country.

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"Many of our students live locally and we need to make sure they have a return on their investment that higher education has given them.

"This investment is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"We're very aware of the financial situation of our students and we're keen to bring new forms of employment to the area.

"What we're doing is creating a different economic environment for them to go into."

The university now has 23,000 students - more than ever before - and 2,400 staff.

Bosses say they are well aware of the employment problems in the Black Country and understand the importance as their role as a beacon for the area.

External relations director Katharine Clough said: "It's just not about teaching students for three years. We're about more than that. It's about raising people's aspirations."

Currently, 94 per cent of students get a job or continue with further studies within six months of graduating - putting the university in the top 25 per cent in the country.

Dr Emma Wedge, university secretary, added: "This isn't just about new buildings.

"This is a very strategic investment programme – this isn't reactionary investment.

"Hopefully in five years time there'll be a return on that investment, but we will continue to grow after that."

'Our Vision – Your Opportunity' is the slogan to go with the £250m investment.

Other ongoing projects include £12m being pumped into Wolverhampton Science Park, £12m at the Telford Innovation Campus, as well as new centres in Telford and Stafford's Shire Hall.

The university even has its own Formula One racing car which engineering students prepare for races.

Cash has been generated by big investment in research and the 'significant' efforts of staff, Professor Layer said.

He added: ""Our engagement with business is at its highest ever level.

"We're one of the most embedded universities in its industry.

"We'll be generating £250m of investment in education, training and economic growth across the area we serve.

"The time is right to invest further in that economic growth.

"We see ourselves as of the area and for the area."

Overseas links have been forged in recent years including with India, China, Mauritius and the Middle East.

The university recently received its biggest ever single donation, with its Chancellor Lord Paul of Marylebone handing over £1m.

When finished the Springfield Brewery site - which is keeping its iconic gated entrance - will have 600 students plus staff. It is due to open in 2016.

The business school is being built at the junction of Molineux Street and Camp Street in the city centre.

The six-storey building is designed to reflect the university's growing business reputation.

The new business school will boast an executive education suite, an IT suite, a central social area and a cafe.

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