Civic Centre in Scunthorpe to be transformed into new university campus

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 8 Nov 2018

Scunthorpe's Civic Centre is set to be transformed into a new university campus as part of a planned investment to increase higher education opportunities in the town.

The Grade II listed building, off Ashby Road, is currently used as North Lincolnshire Council's headquarters but was put up for sale in September last year ahead of a planned move by council staff to Church Square House in the town centre.

Now, the authority has revealed it has teamed up with North Lindsey College and the University of Lincoln for a scheme which aims to deliver 1,500 university-level places within Scunthorpe.

The first phase of the development is to see the University of Lincoln provide 550 undergraduate places, with North Lindsey College to move its existing undergraduate programmes to the Civic Centre building.

The council has announced it will enter into a long-term lease with the college on the building and work on the transformation could start in a matter of months, ready to reopen in September 2019.

The Civic Centre, on Ashby Road in Scunthorpe, which is set to be transformed into a university campus (Image: David Haber/scunthorpelive)

The University Campus North Lincolnshire (UCNL) plan comes after a joint bid was submitted last year by the college, the council and the university for capital funding from the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership towards a university campus.

Julian Free, deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Lincoln, said he thought the new facility would make a big difference in the area.

He said: "All of us at the university are looking forward to working with our partners at North Lincolnshire Council and North Lindsey College to open this university campus in Scunthorpe.

"This will make a huge difference to the local community. It will provide access to gold standard higher education and play a key role in working to meet the skills requirements of North Lincolnshire industry in order to promote the region’s continuing economic development."

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North Lindsey College principal Mick Lochran said: "While higher education at North Lindsey College has grown substantially over the last few years, having a dedicated university campus in the town will make higher education more accessible to people across our community, promoting real social mobility."

The college, which is part of the DN Colleges group, is also an anchor partner in a University of Lincoln-led bid for Department of Education funding to become a national Institute of Technology, which would lead to an increase in people in North Lincolnshire who are qualified at level four or above.

The council first announced its intention to move away from the Civic Centre in January 2016 and an extension to Church Square House forms part of a £60 million town centre regeneration scheme which was unveiled last year.

Plans for North Lincolnshire Council staff to move away from the Civic Centre were first announced in 2016(Image: David Haber/scunthorpelive)

The authority says the move of its staff away from the Civic Centre will save local tax-payers £375,000 per year.

When the building was put on the market, it was suggested it could be turned into a hotel, residential or leisure facility.

Read more: North Lincolnshire Council consider options for Civic Centre

But council leader Rob Waltham said the university plan represented a big opportunity for North Lincolnshire as a whole.

He said: "Transforming the Civic Centre into a dedicated university campus in the heart of Scunthorpe will have huge benefits for North Lincolnshire. The university campus will inspire and raise the aspirations of children and young people across our area.

"This is an opportunity for employers across the region to come to North Lincolnshire and tap into a wealth of the brightest and the best graduates who have the higher-level skills they need to support growth."

The decision to relocate North Lindsey College's current university centre followed continuous growth in numbers and a range of successes.

Maxina Butler-Holmes, its assistant principal for higher education, said: "We are already one of the largest college-based university centres in the UK with an outstanding reputation for quality through our inspections and judgements through the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) for higher education.

Pictured inside the Civic Centre building are North Lindsey College principal Mick Lochran, North Lincolnshire Council deputy chief executive Simon Green, DN Colleges group chief executive Anne Tyrrell, council leader Rob Waltham, deputy leader Richard Hannigan, chief executive Denise Hyde and Maxina Butler-Holmes, the college's assistant principal for higher education (Image: Scunthorpe Live)

"Student satisfaction as demonstrated through the National Student Survey has been consistently remarkable, resulting in our second place in the What Uni award for college-based higher education in 2018.

"The University Campus would result in a truly transformational change placing North Lincolnshire as a leader in community based higher level skills and professional development.

"We have strong, well established university partnerships which will enable us to introduce new undergraduate courses and significantly, post graduate, professional development and management development provision, all available locally in Scunthorpe."

Baroness Liz Redfern, North Lincolnshire ambassador for higher education, added: "I’m proud to have helped lead this partnership to bring forward the University Campus North Lincolnshire, and I'm looking forward to seeing more students studying for degree-level qualifications in the heart of North Lincolnshire."

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