Plans have finally been revealed for a new university in Milton Keynes - with Cranfield University being announced as the education provider.
It's expected that about 5,000 students will study at the university, currently known as MK:U, with the first students arriving in 2023.
The university, which is set to be located on the vacant land between Witan Gate and Grafton Gate - opposite Sainsbury's - will be developed in partnership with businesses after Milton Keynes Council chose Cranfield University as the lead higher education provider.
Cranfield’s educational, technological and industrial partners on MK:U include Grant Thornton, MK College, Microsoft and Tech Mahindra.
The university will deliver a STEM-focused (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) undergraduate curriculum in areas including digital, cyber, autonomy, robotics and artificial intelligence. In each of the university’s key areas of focus, there will be a lead business partner.
The university is a key part of achieving Milton Keynes’ long-term vision, which envisages the city growing up to 500,000 people by 2050 and being at the heart of the Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford innovation corridor.
Professor Sir Peter Gregson, chief executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University, said: “We look forward to working closely with Milton Keynes Council to create a smart university for a smart city.
"Cranfield is one of the UK’s most business-engaged universities and we already have strong links with Milton Keynes. I am delighted that, together with our partners, we will be helping to deliver the exciting vision of a new university for the city.”
Councillor Peter Marland, leader of Milton Keynes Council, added: “For a long time, we’ve held aspirations for a bricks and mortar university in MK to attract talented young people and for local students to attend, and this is a significant step towards the creation of MK:U.
"Through the MK Futures 2050 process, we identified how a university focused on technology could benefit our economy, especially coming alongside the development of the Cambridge-MK-Oxford corridor which also holds great promise.
"This will be the first university anywhere designed as a response to the challenges facing cities today and in the future. We’re delighted to be entering this next chapter with Cranfield University.”
And Professor Lynette Ryals, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Eeucation at Cranfield University and programme director for MK:U, said: “Milton Keynes is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe and is recognised nationally and internationally for its pioneering spirit, embracing and developing concepts like the internet of things and smart cities.
"MK:U presents a tremendous opportunity to design new educational models which will be responsive to the needs of the city’s businesses and its people.”
MK:U will offer accelerated two-year degrees, intensive three-year degrees with project placements, part-time/apprenticeship pathways and short courses/continued professional development.
The next step is an 18-month feasibility study, which will consider the planning, design and financing of the new university.