Multi-campus plan for Brum

March 3, 1995

Birmingham could get a multi-campus university on the American state university model if plans to link the University of Central England and East Birmingham College go ahead.

East Birmingham is already an associate college of the university, running a range of franchised courses. Last week it sent a letter seeking a closer relationship with UCE.

According to a spokesman, UCE's board of governors is to discuss the letter "imminently". Since extensive private soundings have already taken place, it is expected that the application will be considered "sympathetically and favourably".

This means the unified college could be established by the end of the year, although the process would have to be ratified by the Further Education Funding Council, which holds a veto on links between FE and HE institutions and which would seek guarantees that FE provision was not imperilled by the reorganisation.

David Warner, pro-vice chancellor of UCE, said that the link would be "the latest inexorable step towards the blurring of the distinctions between FE and HE institutions which I think is happening in different ways right across the country".

He said that if a closer relationship was developed UCE would not attempt to "academically asset-strip the college," which would continue to offer "a serious amount of FE courses".

The precise constitution has yet to be worked out, although UCE would take charge of the finances of the college and East Birmingham would have more power over courses. Mr Warner said the university might establish "an innovative model" for integration, although he suggested the "state university" model rather than the "community college" model would translate well from the United States.

Other colleges that are considering joining the enlarged university, and which have met UCE officials, are the three other associate colleges, Handsworth, North Birmingham and South Birmingham.

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