Former Oxford v-c ‘senior adviser’ to new Hereford university

A proposed new “world-class” university for Hereford will focus on engineering and has former Oxford vice-chancellor Sir John Hood as senior adviser

February 14, 2015

The project came to prominence on 12 February, when the chancellor, George Osborne, tweeted that the government “will support development of major new uni in Hereford”.

Mr Osborne added that he had “asked Greg Clark [the universities and science minister] to examine how to do this, working with” the University of Bristol.

The nascent institution’s website, “A New University for Hereford”, says the mission of the institution – which aims to open in 2017 – will be to “equip students of all ages with the critical abilities to effectively challenge the status quo in a world dominated by science and technology, and characterised by global competition and the need for sustainable coexistence”.

It also states: “Over the next 5-15 years, the university project team will design, build, staff, fund, market and launch a world class institution of higher education designed to teach and prepare world-class, work-ready graduates.”

The university will also seek its own Royal Charter in the future and “is being conceived as a not-for-profit institution, with mixed funding, and operating with input from The John Lewis Partnership model”.

The website also states that Sir John, who left Oxford in 2009, is “senior advisor” and among its directors. Sir John was regarded as unpopular with some academics at Oxford, who in 2006 voted down his plans to change the university’s traditions of academic self-government and bring in external appointees to oversee finances.

David Sheppard, one of the project’s directors, said the plan is to formally launch the project next month.

He said the university would be “a small institution focused on the teaching of engineering”.

Mr Sheppard said that the project had begun from the premise that the Hereford area is one of the “more deprived” areas in England and that “universities do have a transformative effect”. But it had since “morphed into other things”, he added.

The website says that a “working Development Team has been in place since late 2012, and is comprised of local business people and educators”.

It adds: “With seed financing of £3-4 million and an additional £10-13 million to open the university in 2017, the board will be tasked over succeeding years with securing an additional £50-£75 million in financing; integrating resources from personal and corporate philanthropy, the social capital market, private investment, UK & EU Government funding, public sector asset transfers, and industry sponsorships.”

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Reader's comments (1)

To compete with the 'world best in class', this intended prestigious Technical university perhaps should concentrate primarily on recruiting A* and A grade students possessing the new Applied General Level 3 qualifications and specifically contribute teaching to Higher Apprenticeships, and secure Professional Society accreditation of its Awards. Its research effort will also need to be of very high quality, probably mainly jointly funded in cooperation with public, private and not for profit research institutes based in the industrial and commercial sectors, with R&D outcomes specifically targeted for near market development in collaboration with the Catapults. All this assumes the project can draw in staff with substantial expertise of both teaching and research at the top end of vocational education, sadly a neglected feature of UK practice, which may therefore require recruiting a goodly proportion of foreigners from top international companies and research institutes. A similar more ambitious outcome was mostly positively achieved by the 1960's 'plate glass' universities initiative for the arts, sciences and medicine.