2 March 2016

A £6.5 million university centre set to open at West Nottinghamshire College will transform the skills landscape in Mansfield and Ashfield and boost business.

That was the promise made by education chiefs and business leaders during a site visit last week to check progress on the state-of-the-art building currently under construction at the college’s Derby Road campus in Mansfield.

The flagship Vision University Centre opens its doors in September and forms part of an ambitious plan to boost access to higher education (HE) and advanced-level skills amongst local communities.

Part-funded by a £2.6 million grant from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, it will allow the college to grow its already-successful HE provision and work even more closely with employers.

Many of the courses to be offered at the centre will be tailored to meet the needs of local businesses, enabling them to up-skill their workforce and develop the highly-trained talent pool to achieve future growth and prosperity.

Currently, the college has more than 500 students on university-level courses, ranging from higher national certificates (HNCs) and higher national diplomas (HNDs) to foundation degrees and full-honours degrees.

The three-storey building will eventually provide places for an extra 600 students, including higher apprentices and people studying part-time professionally-certified qualifications such as AAT, CIPD, CIM and CIPS, plus those attending one-day or evening ‘masterclasses’ and professional development programmes.

Designed by Cheshire-based architects IBI Group and being constructed by Wildgoose Construction, of Alfreton, Derbyshire, it will boast modern teaching and learning spaces, IT suites, study rooms, a learning resource centre, 100-seat lecture theatre and a science laboratory.

Dame Asha Khemka, Principal and Chief Executive of the college, said:

“The creation of this inspirational new centre represents a landmark moment, not only for the college but for the communities we serve.

“Having a local university has been a long-held ambition amongst many in our towns, and the opening of this flagship facility in September will bring that dream much closer to reality.

“As a community, our area currently lags behind the East Midlands for the number of people who possess higher-level skills. That is not down to a lack of ability but a lack of opportunity.

“Local employers repeatedly tell me they need more people with advanced skills, whether in technical trades such as engineering and manufacturing, or in the professional services sector.

“Vision University Centre will go a significant way towards addressing this problem by making higher education even more accessible to local people and equipping businesses with the highly-trained talent pool they need.

“Higher-level skills are at the heart of business success and individual prosperity. This is an exciting and much-needed development and is the final piece in our £50 million investment to bring world-class learning facilities to the area.”

David Ralph, Chief Executive of D2N2, said:

“Access to higher-level skills for potential employees of the area’s businesses is vital for building the economy and creating new jobs, allowing all communities to share in the prosperity.

“This is why significant time and resources are being invested by the Local Enterprise Partnership in skills and training development, including through capital investment schemes which create leading facilities such as the new Vision University Centre.”