When universities and science minister David Willetts spoke last month about creating new universities in “obvious cold spots”, he cited the examples of East Anglia and Yeovil.
But anyone who has dipped their toe in the sea at Scarborough knows there are few colder English spots than the North Yorkshire resort.
So at first glance, Mr Willetts might be disappointed to learn that the University of Hull plans to close enrolment in all of the degree programmes it currently offers at its Scarborough campus from next year.
A discussion paper submitted to Hull’s senate last month says that increased competition within higher education and the university’s own “strategic ambitions” to improve its reputational stature means it will become “unsustainable” to continue offering bachelor’s or master’s degrees on its Scarborough campus.
The paper says moving some of the courses offered back to Hull would permit greater economies of scale, better align teaching with research, facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and better cohere with the university’s faculty-led management structure.
The Scarborough campus, which offers courses in subjects such as education, marine biology and digital arts, has about 1,500 students, accounting for 8 per cent of Hull’s student body. It became affiliated to Hull in 2000, having previously been a teacher training college and then University College Scarborough.
However, despite the plans appearing to go against Mr Willetts’ hopes for the country’s cold spots, Hull insists that they could eventually see Scarborough end up with a fully fledged university of its own.
It is proposing that the seaside site, which has become “an important part of the town’s culture and economy” be used to create a “Scarborough-centric higher education offer”. Although it will not recruit any more bachelor’s or master’s students next year, the campus will continue to recruit foundation course students while the university consults Scarborough Borough Council and local businesses about what courses should be offered on a continuing basis, and who should run them.
Ian Pashby, Hull’s pro vice-chancellor for engagement, said that in developing a “new institutional model” for the Scarborough campus, the university was fulfilling its role as an “anchor institution”. The remodelled institution would have “strong local roots” and “might eventually support the town’s aspiration to have its own university”.
He added that the proposals had been “overwhelmingly endorsed” by the university’s senate and council, and a decision on what would be offered in Scarborough would be taken in the coming months.