Milton Keynes has taken one step closer to getting its very own university - thanks to the backing of MK Council.
University Campus Milton Keynes, part of the University of Bedfordshire, has signed a new contract with the council to expand operations into the council’s Saxon Court offices, on Avebury Boulevard.
A business innovation centre is also being set up as part of the MK Smart drive.
Councillor Rob Middleton, the cabinet member responsible for resources and commercialism, said: “As a city we have a long standing ambition to grow a vibrant local university and this agreement is a significant investment in the future of our local residents.
“The partnership between Milton Keynes Council and UCMK takes our city an important step closer to delivering our ambitious goal of a full university here.
“In the months and years to come, our city’s local residents will be better skilled, meaning they are better able to access local and fairly paid jobs that Milton Keynes needs to grow and flourish.”
The council says the expansion has the twin advantages of bringing together business development of small and medium enterprises – and the excellent learning opportunities offered by UCMK.
Dr Paul Sant, Associate Dean of UCMK, said: “The University and the Council are working in partnership to create and grow a university campus that will serve to drive forward the city’s ambitions for growth, innovation and a highly-skilled workforce.
“As UCMK expands, the business-focussed courses we will run next year will include a formal internship or placement, providing undergraduates with an in-depth experience working in their chosen industry, increasing their skills and making them particularly employable.”
Dr Sant, who is a member of the Institute for Research in Applicable Computing at the University of Bedfordshire, added: “We are also excited to continue to grow and strengthen our partnerships with local businesses, including through the MK Data Hub, which will bring a wealth of opportunities for MK citizens and businesses.”
The MK Data Hub, hosted at UCMK, is central to the success of the MK:Smart initiative, which will develop innovative solutions to support Milton Keynes’ economic growth.
The MK Data Hub will acquire and manage vast amounts of data relevant to city systems, such as about energy and water consumption, transport, and social and economic data.
Hosting the MK Data Hub at UCMK will give opportunities for MK-based businesses to work together with academics and students to, for example, develop applications, create new products and improve services to local communities.