Suffolk MPs across the political spectrum have backed plans to transform Ipswich-based Suffolk College into a fully-fledged "televersity" which will harnesses the benefits of the information superhighway.
Plans for a high-tech University of Suffolk - drawn up by a local task group comprising representatives from industry, the Suffolk Training and Enterprise Council and local government - have already been validated by management consultants Touche Ross. Suffolk College is expected to become an accredited college of the University of East Anglia by June this year.
The support of the six MPs and an MEP will give fresh hope to a campaign to turn the college into an independent county-based university. By 2005 the university could reach 15,000 students through a network of 15 local learning centres filled with the latest technical wizardry from British Telecom Laboratories at Martlesham in Suffolk. Richard Nicol, head of the university-BT research initiative, said: "The new Suffolk University promises to be a world exemplar or shop window of televersity techniques. If the Open University were starting today, this is how it would be done."
This technology-driven concept impressed local MPs including John Gummer, Secretary of State for the Environment. He said: "Suffolk needs a university which should be radical in terms of teaching techniques. It would be a testbed for new ideas."