York's plan to expand will create 2,000 jobs

May 21, 2004

York University is planning to double in size over the next decade in a move expected to create about 2,000 jobs, including 1,000 academic positions.

The university plans to introduce a range of new subjects, including theatre, film and television studies as well as law and dentistry.

City councillors are due to announce a public consultation on the expansion plans submitted by York, one of England's smallest universities.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England gave initial backing to the plans, which would see student numbers increase from 10,000 to 15,000 over a period of ten to 15 years.

Brian Cantor, York vice-chancellor, said: "We must grow to sustain excellence and we have a wonderful opportunity to do so. I believe it gives the whole city a focus for optimism in our future."

York is the latest in a growing list of institutions - including Durham, Bath, Kent and Cambridge - that are expanding campuses. Last month, the university announced that it was creating ten readerships after the appointment of ten professorial chairs to mark the institution's 40th anniversary.

The proposals are set out in the university's outline planning bid to York City Council for the development of farming land at Heslington East, adjacent to the main campus. The expansion would double the space occupied by the university.

The council is due to respond to the plans by September. They will then be referred to the government for consideration.

It is hoped that the buildings will be opened by autumn 2007.

The development is likely to create 2,000 jobs at the university and 2,500 jobs in related research activity, particularly in spin-off companies and other jobs in the city. The university employs 2,700 people.

York's student population is not expected to change radically in terms of the proportion of undergraduate, postgraduate and international numbers.

The university plans to build research centres for subjects such as biodiversity, nanotechnology and neuroscience. A big growth in spin-off companies is also forecast, as the new site will contain incubators for start-ups.

"York is the sixth smallest university in England, and to maintain our position we have to grow, but we are almost at capacity on our current site," a York spokeswoman said.

Some existing fast-growing departments such as computer science and electronics will be relocated to the new campus.

Heslington East is likely to include four new colleges for an extra 3,300 students as well as public facilities such as playing fields, an indoor sports arena and a performing arts centre.

Jon Meacock, Heslington East's project director, said: "We intend it to be a beautiful place, sensitive to its neighbours and to the landscape. Its open nature and the public facilities should make it a place every citizen of York can feel belongs to them."

Both the existing campus and its extension will become almost traffic free with a new transit system moving staff and students around buildings.

alison.utley@thes.co.uk

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