V-c plans entente for Kent

August 17, 2001

Kent University is planning a cross-Channel university while extending its partnerships with local colleges, incoming vice-chancellor David Melville said this week.

Professor Melville, who takes over next week as vice-chancellor from Robin Sibson, told The THES : "There has been discussion about a university that spans the Channel and I have already raised the possibility with the Department for Education and Skills.

"It could be called the Transmanche University. It would offer dual qualifications for those students who recognise that they could use them to work in either country. There is a really exciting possibility for when we get back into Europe as a nation. I am an absolute, total Europhile."

Kent University has links with the Universite du Littoral, which has campuses in Boulogne, Calais, Dunkirk and Saint-Omer, plus other institutions in the Calais area. Students taking European studies, modern languages or business studies already exchange with students from French institutions.

Professor Melville, who was previously chief executive of the Further Education Funding Council, also outlined his plans to link with higher and further education institutions in the county.

A joint campus in Medway with the Mid-Kent College opened recently and another is planned for Ashford, with South Kent College. There is talk of a joint venture with the University of Greenwich.

Collaboration would enable the university to widen participation, Professor Melville said: "The reason why we have low participation in Medway campus is not because young people there are less intelligent but because they have not got educational opportunities."

Another priority was to contribute to the local economy, he said: "Oxford, Reading, Brighton and Canterbury are all the same distance from London. The others are in an area where the economy is overheating while Kent is underperforming. The university plans to be very much a part of the development of the region."

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