Plans for a University of Gloucestershire are back on track after the successful conclusion of a three-year struggle to bring higher education back to Gloucester city.
Gloucester City Council has agreed a Pounds 2 million deal with Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education to re-open its redundant Oxstalls campus in Gloucester.
The college faced protests in 1993 when, facing "financial difficulties", it closed the Oxstalls campus, shifted operations to Cheltenham, and tried to sell the site to Tesco. Gloucester City Council, which blocked the sale, accused the college of deserting the needs of a growing and underprivileged community.
Now, after "months of complex negotiations", the city council has agreed to buy the freehold of the Oxstalls site for Pounds 2 million. It will lease the campus back to the college, which has pledged that the Pounds 2 million will be ploughed back into Oxstalls. A fund-raising programme has been launched to raise Pounds 5 million to redevelop the site.
Janet Trotter, director of Cheltenham and Gloucester College, said: "It has taken time to arrive at a solution that meets the requirements of the college and the city but we have done it and I am delighted we can move ahead with speed."
New undergraduate courses will begin in September 1999. The site is expected to accommodate 450 full-time equivalent students at first. Postgraduate courses "will be mounted as soon as possible", said a spokeswoman.
It is hoped the reopening will form the basis of a University of Gloucestershire. Cheltenham and Gloucester College was inspected last month in a bid for research degree-awarding powers and hopes for university status.