The Leader of South Tyneside Council has given his full support to attempts to attract a prestigious Centre of Higher Education Excellence to the Borough.
Councillor Paul Waggott says if one or more universities could be attracted to establish a presence in South Tyneside it would be an excellent way of raising the educational aspirations of local young people and would also significantly boost the local economy.
The idea to attract a university came from a high level strategy group created to manage the Council's response to the Viasystems closure threat. Councillor Waggott, Deputy Leader Councillor John Temple, MPs Stephen Hepburn and David Miliband along with senior representatives of the Council, ONE NorthEast and the Employment Service met to develop a Plan looking at all ideas and projects together with new ideas that could make a significant impact on the future development of the Borough.
As part of this process ONE NorthEast commissioned Professor Russel Griggs to provide their input into this forward-looking process. Professor Griggs, of R7E Resources, Sanquhar is looking into ways of developing a Centre of Higher Education Excellence within the Borough, starting with research to find out whether or not at least one University has a genuine interest in establishing a University Annexe in the Borough.
He will report on his conclusions by June 30th to fit in with the publication of COMEDIA's South Tyneside Transformation Commission in July.
Council Leader, Councillor Paul Waggott says: "Professor Russel Griggs was appointed because of his skill mix in the areas of marketing and university related experience/contacts. The idea originally came from One NorthEast who, I am pleased to say, are partnering South Tyneside Council in this commission."
He adds: "The idea of a Centre of Higher Education Excellence has many positive attributes: It would raise the educational aspirations of our young people; bring new people into the Borough to support the local economy; supply accommodation for visitors in the holidays; provide a possible conference facility and impact positively on business research and development. I am delighted that this research is being undertaken with the full co-operation of South Tyneside College, who also see possibilities for their own development as part of this process."
Doug Pigg, The Council's Director of Development Services says: "Professor Griggs will research into the genuine interest of universities establishing a presence in the Borough. The Foreshore is one of the many location possibilities that exist in South Tyneside. It would be a difficult site to develop as it would have to comply with complex planning, sports field and covenant constraints - but its location will seriously test the interest of any university to develop links with the Borough."
If Professor Griggs finds that there is genuine interest from at least one University, discussions will begin as to the development of a Centre of Higher Education Excellence. These will centre around developing Higher Education as an integral part of the Council's own Education Development Plans. It will look at the involvement of South Tyneside College in association with outreaches from several universities and will look at the full range of location possibilities in the Borough.
The way forward will be guided by the Council after a full debate on the options and opportunities available. This debate would be an integral part of the Council's consideration of COMEDIAs Transformation Plan for the Borough.