NUCA still confident it will be Norwich’s second university

Hopes of making Norwich a two-university city are still high – despite uncertainty surrounding a key government bill.

Norwich University College of the Arts (NUCA) announced its intention to apply to be able to use the university title last year after ministers revealed plans to grant the status to smaller higher education providers.

At the moment, only those with more than 4,000 full-time HE students can call themselves universities.

But the Higher Education Bill is set to allow institutions with at least 1,000 students – like NUCA – to also use the name.

Principal John Last said he still felt confident Norwich's university college would at last be able to drop the 'college' part of its title and further boost its ongoing development.


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He said NUCA was already a university in everything but name, but added: 'We are hopeful that strong demand for our courses will enhance the case for NUCA to become designated as a university. This would not only recognise our 165-year history of excellent higher education and quality assurance, but would also help us with our recruitment of students outside of the United Kingdom where the term 'university college' is not well understood.'

However, it still remains unclear when NUCA will hear whether its application has been successful.

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That uncertainty was increased last week when rumours emerged that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) had put the entire bill on hold indefinitely because of disagreements within the coalition over some of its more controversial elements.

But last night Michael Gibbs, BIS spokesman, said that was not the case. 'No, it's not on hold,' he said. 'We are still looking to get our reforms in place by 2014/15.'

He said the department could not pre-empt the next Queen's Speech – due to take place this spring when the legislative programme for the parliamentary session will be set out – but was not aware of any hold-ups.

In any case, NUCA expects plans to extend university status to smaller HE institutions to go ahead sooner or later – whether as part of a wider bill or not.

The Higher Education Bill also includes a number of other elements, including controversial proposals to allow private education providers to become universities and a provision to make it possible to raise the tuition fee cap above �9,000 some time in the future.

Do you have an education story? Contact Victoria Leggett on 01603 772468 or email victoria.leggett@archant.co.uk

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