Cybercafe imbues taste for learning

November 1, 1996

De Montfort, once the country's fastest growing university, is planning to build an ambitious cybercafe-cum-tutorial complex which could prompt a new escalation in student numbers via a multi-million dollar investment by United States computer companies.

The new building, which will be constructed on the edge of De Montfort's Leicester campus, will be dual-purpose, offering services to students and local residents.

David Chiddick, De Montfort's pro vice chancellor, said his vision is for "a bookshop which can be a media shop which also sells CD-ROM or pre-packaged material which can be read for pleasure or as part of a flexible programme". He said that within this "shop", there might be "a facility to eat, meet a tutor, use the computer suite or listen to a string quartet".

He said the building could serve as "a gateway" for a "very large off-campus student population" who would follow sub-degree courses and may later sign up to take full-degree programmes.

The IT context would, he thinks, also entice major international companies like IBM, which already has links with De Montfort.

Professor Chiddick said De Montfort would be sending the plans to the Higher Education Funding Council for England in the hope of receiving pathfinder money under the Government's Private Finance Initiative.

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