Luton University will lose "several hundred thousand pounds a year" with the closure of the Vauxhall car plant. But vice-chancellor Dai John told The THES that he is sure the local economy will thrive in other directions, and the university is ready to play a central part in reshaping it.
General Motors announced this week that it will end car production at Luton with the immediate loss of 2,000 jobs and thousands more in related businesses.
Dr John said: "We have had excellent working relationships with the plant and it would be silly to pretend we will not miss a partner on that scale."
The university provided work-based courses for the plant's workers, offering degree programmes in business and information technology, training and postgraduate business qualifications. Vauxhall sponsored students and research programmes, he said, including the Vauxhall Centre for the Study of Crime Prevention.
But he added that Luton's economy was geared for longer-term success and the university would benefit. "The myth that Luton is a manufacturing town is not correct. The economy was already well diversified, partly in anticipation of closure. As the economy diversifies, opportunities for the university will multiply in turn."