Mining starts Cornish explosion

February 18, 2000

Camborne School of Mines will move 15 miles to help form the hub of a new campus under the latest scheme for a Cornish university.

Earth science, mining and engineering courses at Camborne will join new programmes in humanities, social care and life sciences, languages and health and existing courses in arts, design, crafts and communications at the Falmouth College of Art and Design to form a Pounds 50 million campus in a former convent at Tremough.

Cornwall College at Pool, Penwith, St Austell and Truro - all further education colleges - will form a "rim" supporting the hub by expanding their range of higher education programmes to include more higher national diplomas and the new two-year foundation degrees. They may eventually be able to provide honours degree- level courses, if staff can demonstrate an "appropriate" level of degree activity.

The College of St Mark and St John, based in Plymouth, will also be involved, as will the Open University, with distance learning integral to the scheme.

Further education is likely to remain - and could expand - at Camborne, which was once considered the most likely site for the new university. Feasibility studies for the campus carried out last year on sites at South Crofty in Pool/Camborne, Trereife in Penzance and Tremough near Falmouth found Tremough was the cheapest option.

But the Combined Universities for Cornwall project, set up by Falmouth College and Exeter and Plymouth universities, will still need to raise millions of pounds.

Bids for some 3,000 extra degree and postgraduate students from next academic year, mainly based in the central hub, and about 400 full and part-time places on other higher education programmes in further education colleges, will be considered by the Higher Education Funding Council for England at its board meeting this month.

By 2010, the CUC wants to increase the number of full and part-time higher education students in Cornwall from 4,200 this year to up to 10,000, with about 45 per cent coming in from outside the county. Half would be taught at Penryn, half in the "rim".

Keith Atkinson, director of the Camborne School of Mines, said they would move site whenever the building work was complete, although current students were unlikely to be affected.

"It will be an opportunity to be part of a much larger university setting and will give the students a better experience," he said.

But Alan Stanhope, principal of Cornwall College, warned there was still a long way to go.

"It needs a lot of commitment and energy down here both from local people and politicians to make this a reality," he said.

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