Deputy prime minister John Prescott has announced £15 million for a collaborative project to create a new university campus for the Medway towns of Kent. The announcement completes the drive to raise the £46 million needed for the Medway university project.
The main project partners are the universities of Kent and Greenwich, Mid Kent College of Higher and Further Education, Medway Council and the South East of England Development Agency. The Higher Education Funding Council for England has contributed nearly £4 million.
Key to securing the money from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is the project's commitment to widening higher education and regeneration of the Medway area, which has suffered as a result of Ministry of Defence budget cuts.
The universities hope that their links with local schools and colleges, such as Mid Kent, will encourage more local people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to consider higher education. The aim is to at least double student numbers at Medway to 6,000 by 2007-08.
David Melville, vice-chancellor of Kent, said the project embodied a multiversity approach to higher education, where a number of different providers joined together to offer the fullest possible range of educational opportunities on and around a single campus.
Professor Melville said: "The vision has been very important in achieving our aims. It is something different. Here we have two universities and a college creating something that is more than the sum of their individual parts."
David Wills, pro vice-chancellor of Greenwich, said: "The project is about social inclusion. We are trying to offer what people need locally."
The site, formerly the Royal Navy training base HMS Pembroke, already houses about 2,500 Greenwich University science and engineering students, and a number from the partner institutions.