University of Warwick scraps California branch campus plan

UK institution expresses concern about regulatory constraints and ‘global political challenges’

December 27, 2017
Paper in bin

The University of Warwick has backed out of plans to open a branch campus in California, citing concerns about regulatory constraints in the state and “global political challenges”.

Warwick announced its vision for an outpost near Sacramento in 2015, with the goal of attracting 6,000 students by 2031. The campus would have been located on a donated site covering 600 acres in Placer County.

However, a joint statement issued by Warwick and its partner, the University Development Foundation, said that Warwick’s council had concluded “that what was now being considered had moved too far beyond the original vision of the project in terms of the nature, scale and timescale and that the university could no longer see a model going forward that would lead to the university being able to establish the originally envisioned fully comprehensive, research-led campus”.

The statement added that Warwick’s council had made the decision “noting concerns about the evolving financial framework that would need to be in place to support a research-led comprehensive campus, and some of the regulatory issues that would apply to a non US-based institution wishing to establish itself in California, and other global political challenges”.

Warwick’s withdrawal came amid growing doubts about the viability of new branch campuses, with Aberystwyth University planning the closure of its Mauritius outpost just two years after it opened, and reports that the University of Aberdeen’s plan for a site in South Korea was “highly likely to fall through”.

The University Development Foundation said that it was “disappointed” by Warwick’s decision, but that it was “optimistic” about its chances of attracting another higher education institution to take on the site.

Stuart Croft, Warwick’s vice-chancellor, said that the university wished “every success” to the campaign to bring a branch campus to Placer County.

“The University of Warwick has met and been impressed by so many enthusiastic and highly committed people who have come together to build on this idea and I want to thank them all for their support and generosity as we have worked together on this vision,” Professor Croft said.

Announcing the branch campus project nearly three years ago, Sir Nigel Thrift, who was then Warwick’s vice-chancellor, described the move as part of the institution’s “successful strategy to develop as globally networked university”.

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