15-year vision for UEA includes £300m campus investment

Mike Page aerial picture of the University of East Anglia campus, Norwich.

Mike Page aerial picture of the University of East Anglia campus, Norwich. - Credit: Archant

The University of East Anglia will today launch an ambitious 15-year vision for its future with a call for business leaders to help it become a major global university and boost our region's economy.

Vice-chancellor David Richardson will unveil new research showing the UEA contributes £346.4m a year to Norwich's economy, and a further £154.3m across Norfolk and Suffolk – figures he said would quickly rise as it expands over the next decade.

The UEA 2030 vision includes a £300m investment in the university's campus, funded by surpluses and borrowing, with about half earmarked for new buildings, and half to make existing buildings fit for 21st century education.

Prof Richardson said it was 'absolutely essential' the university grows in partnership with local businesses, and added: 'We are going to be one of the top universities in the world. To do that, we need to work harder at promoting ourselves internationally, and promoting our reputation.

'But we can't develop as a strong global university without strong relationships in the region.

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'They will help us develop, whether it is new degree courses, or businesses working with us to provide business opportunities or internship opportunities for our students, or businesses promoting the UEA as they engage around the world.'

He said the government regarded universities as 'anchors' for regional economic growth, and said raising the international reputation of the UEA would also raise the area's profile, attracting more businesses and tourists.

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At this morning's launch, at the Hostry at Norwich Cathedral, he will tell 150 business and community leaders the prize is a more vibrant economy, a more cosmopolitan city, and more students from around the world acting as ambassadors for our region.

He said: 'As we further develop, the business community itself will in turn benefit from us graduating students who will take jobs in the growing business community, and the region, and help those businesses develop further.'

The UEA plans to increase its 15,000-strong student body by 3,000 in the next decade.

It also plans to grow its academic staff by about 100 by 2020, as part of the first of three five-year plans that make up the 15-year vision.

Prof Richardson said a key question the university sought to answer was why students would want to come to the UEA in 2030, when

they could learn electronically from home.

He said: 'I think students still value social interaction on campus, and the additions that the campus experience gives to them. That's more than just the degree programme, itself important though it is.'

The 10 objectives for 2016-20 include maintaining a strong focus on student satisfaction, and investing in wider student support services such as mental health, diversity and access to facilities.

The plan also said: 'We will prioritise the development of world-leading research across all of our disciplines, but will identify and develop a small number of pan-university research priorities.'

The university aims to continue housing all first year students on its campus, but Prof Richardson said student growth meant more private sector student housing would be needed in Norwich.

He said: 'As we grow the city, we need to grow with the city. I recognise our growth can potentially put strain on the city's accommodation and infrastructure, but equally many people have welcomed the growth ambition because it can add economic vibrancy to the city and our students are from all over the world, bringing different cultures.'

He said he had already discussed the plan with the city, county and South Norfolk councils.

Do you have an education story? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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