World famous Open University could move lock stock and barrel to new site in Central Milton Keynes

Plans are to be drawn up for the multi-million pound move, which would include a face-to-face uni
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The world famous Open University is to consider a multi-million pound move a few miles down the road to MK city centre.

And the plan would include a new ‘sister’ uni to offer face-to-face courses for students to study in person.

The University’s governing council has agreed to initiate work on the strategic and financial case to relocate the OU’s existing campus at Walton Hall to a new site adjacent to the central railway station.

The Open University is drawing up plans for a multi-million pound move - a few miles down the road to CMKThe Open University is drawing up plans for a multi-million pound move - a few miles down the road to CMK
The Open University is drawing up plans for a multi-million pound move - a few miles down the road to CMK

This would support the city’s wider vison to develop one of the UK’s most vibrant city centres.

It follow the announcement in January that MK’s plan to create a world-class university called MK:U are in tatters after the government refused the multi million pound funding.

The new OU proposal includes developing for a new ‘sister university’ serving students who want to study the OU’s famous online courses in person, supported by teaching on site and an exciting range of accommodation, entertainment and sport offers at the heart of the city.

The OU is the UK’s largest university, with over 200,000 students studying from home or work across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Its headquarters have been in Milton Keynes since it began in 1969.

Work on the business case will engage with the ideas of internal and external stakeholders, including the city council and Milton Keynes’ growing businesses and communities, about how the campus could better meet the OU’s future needs and the needs of students for future skills.

The OU will work closely with Milton Keynes Development Partnership (MKDP) as the landowners on a proposition to create a smart, accessible and energy-efficient campus to include science laboratories, interactive working and learning spaces, studios, a library and a student centre. It would integrate technology and place-making, optimising working and living experiences for staff, students and other city centre users.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Blackman said: “While Walton Hall remains an option for the future, we are focusing our planning on what additional benefits a new city centre site could bring.

“A purpose-built campus at the heart of a thriving business community, within half an hour by train from London, Cambridge, Oxford and the midlands, is an opportunity to reshape our facilities and provision for the decades ahead. Students would be able to choose online study with the OU from wherever in the UK or the world they live, or study all or some of the time on campus.”

MKDP’s Chairman Nicola Sawford said: “We’re very excited about the opportunity to work with the OU on this once in a generation opportunity to re-imagine higher education in the city centre and for this to be a cornerstone of the new masterplan for the Lower Westside development site.”

Milton Keynes City Council leader Pete Marland said: “MK is one of the UK’s fastest growing and most innovative cities, but also one of the greenest and most liveable.

“A move by the OU into the city centre is potentially transformational. It could create another world-class higher education opportunity where creativity meets technology, meaning our young people do not have to move away to study and we can attract students from across the world to study and live in Milton Keynes.”