Video: Actor John Hurt welcomes plans to double student numbers at Norwich University of the Arts

Chancellor John Hurt, at a reception to announce a year of celebrations ahead of NUA's 170th anniversary, with vice chancellor, John Last. Picture: Denise Bradley Chancellor John Hurt, at a reception to announce a year of celebrations ahead of NUA's 170th anniversary, with vice chancellor, John Last. Picture: Denise Bradley

Friday, January 31, 2014
6:30 AM

The Norwich University of the Arts has unveiled plans to double its number of students and invest more than £10m as part of its ambition to become the best specialist university in Europe.

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Chancellor John Hurt chats to graphic design students Charlie Garrod and Kassia Chatting, at a reception to unveil details of a year of celebrations ahead of the 170th anniversary of the Norwich University of the Arts. Picture: Denise BradleyChancellor John Hurt chats to graphic design students Charlie Garrod and Kassia Chatting, at a reception to unveil details of a year of celebrations ahead of the 170th anniversary of the Norwich University of the Arts. Picture: Denise Bradley

The announcement was made last night at a reception where NUA also set out plans for a year of celebrations in the run up to its 170th anniversary in 2015.

The proposal to expand the university from 2,000 to “no more than 4,000 students” over the next eight years follows the government’s relaxation of restrictions on the number of students universities can accept.

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The plans were welcomed by NUA’s chancellor, the Oscar-nominated actor and north Norfolk resident John Hurt.

He said: “The goal is just to make it the best. We don’t want to be unduly competitive in that sense, but if there is a best we want to be part of that. Definitely.”

Vice-chancellor John Last said the £10m programme over the next five years included the purchase of Boardman House in Redwell Street, which will be used as NUA’s school of architecture and include a film studio downstairs.

He added that NUA this week secured agreement for 200 rooms in the student housing development at the bus station, which will be available for the 2015 intake of students.

Prof Last said: “It will allow us to grow and expand to demand, but I think it would be a mistake to grow too quickly or too large. I think what is special about universities of this sort is that they do maintain a balance and a scale which is appropriate.

“I know that John Hurt said it is important we know their names and I think that’s a very important reminder to us that you don’t want to become so big and anonymous, you want to keep a community of creative practice.

“We envisage about 4,000 students at the end of the planning period but I don’t think whilst I’m the vice chancellor we will envisage seeing it any larger than that.”

He added that the expansion would come through the addition of new courses, rather than expanding existing ones.

Looking to the next 10 or 20 years, he said NUA would remain specialist and responsive to industry, and added: “I hope the city continues to see that we can support existing businesses, that we have facilities that they can share and work with, and the membrane between the city and the university remains permeable so we continue in dialogue with the city and with our businesses.”

Graphic design student Charlie Garrod said: “NUA has more than fulfilled my expectations. It’s a part of my life I will look back on and be very happy I have been here.”

What do you think? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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