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Former Staffordshire University Octagon building in line for £1m revamp

By Rob Golledge | Stafford | Education | Published:

A £1 million revamp of the former Staffordshire University Octagon computer centre has been announced by the site’s Chinese owners.

The former campus with the distinctive Octagon building at its centre

The iconic building – once home to one of the most technologically advanced computing facilities in Europe – will be transformed into an education and innovation hub offering university degree-level courses and act as a base for entrepreneurs.

The New Beacon Group, which bought the 46-acre site at Beaconside last year, said the Octagon would be at the ‘centre’ of its plans for the campus, which will combine the best of ‘east and west’ teaching.

Deputy chief executive Professor Mark Mabey said: “We are about to refurbish the Octagon building with about £1m going into it.

"It will be the centre of the campus and it will offer university courses and short course such as Mandarin for business and how you do business in China, that sort of thing.

“It will have a study centre that will offer distance learning but, like with the Open University, people then come in to do tutorials and things.

“On the first floor we are going to turn that into an innovation centre for graduate business start-ups. It will take graduates from various universities, offer them free accommodation and let them start up.

“And we will have a big conference centre because the Octagon has a brilliant lecture theatre.”

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It is hoped the first students could arrive in January to start international postgraduate certificates in education.

But the main launch will take place in September 2018 when Beaconwood College, an international day and boarding school for 11 to 19-year-olds, will open for post-16 students alongside the degree-level courses.

Eventually as many as 3,000 students from China, the UK, and across the world could be taught at the campus.

The Octagon, a four-storey building visible along Weston Road, opened in 1992.

Rob Golledge

By Rob Golledge
@golledge_star

Part of the Express & Star special projects team responsible for investigations and major stories from politics to counter terrorism

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