Author Topic: University?  (Read 7741 times)

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Offline Justin Tomlinson

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University?
« on: August 08, 2009, 06:56:27 PM »
Following the Coate decision, do you think a University will ever come to Swindon?



Offline komadori

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Re: University?
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2009, 07:09:49 PM »
In the sense of a 'traditional' university that most people seem to have had in mind whenever it's been mentioned, no. But then looking at the statements made by the University of Bath and then by The University of The West of England, thats not what either had planned anyway.

What I could see happening, and would favour, is one of the colleges in Swindon expanding the undergraduate courses which it offers until, after many years, it is in a position to claim university status and offer its own degrees rather than those of other universities. I think that would also have the benefit of producing something more vocational appropriate for the sort of town Swindon is (as described by kecl in the past), focused on the town's industrial base, rather than a more traditional, academic university that we might end up with as a branch of some other town's university.

That model is the one by which most current universities were created (from college, to university college or polytechnic, then to independent university), but is one that takes many decades.
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: University?
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2009, 10:36:06 PM »
 
Wasn't the 'University of The West of England' originally known as Bristol Polytechnic ?

Offline Robert Buckland

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Re: University?
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2009, 02:18:20 PM »
Yes it was Bristol Polytechnic. The unflattering comments in the Coate Inquiry Inspector's Report about the haste in which UWE went for developing a site at Coate (eg signing a deal only the day before the Inquiry opened) raise serious questions in my mind as to the capacity of this institution to deliver meaningful and relevant Higher Education provision in Swindon.  I am taken with Komadori's suggestion that we should be looking to existing FE institutions within Swindon to provide degree courses, encouraging an "organic development" of higher education that would then meet local needs.

Our most successful Universities have evolved gradually; great institutions don't just suddenly appear from nowhere like a Britain's Got Talent contestant "enjoying" five minutes of celebrity.  I have been accused in the past of being "against" a University in Swindon.  This is untrue.  What I am against is the "any time, any place anywhere and at any price" mentality is accepted by some in this debate.
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Offline Justin Tomlinson

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Re: University?
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2009, 06:42:44 PM »
I am with Rob on that - plus it does have the added advantage of being a 'Swindon' University, rather than a 'campus' of another University.

By expanding the existing FE options, the courses could be set against the skills required in the town.

Also surely this is the most deliverable (and realistic) option so why not get on and do it?

Offline Alex

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Re: University?
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2009, 07:08:52 PM »
Yes it was Bristol Polytechnic. The unflattering comments in the Coate Inquiry Inspector's Report about the haste in which UWE went for developing a site at Coate (eg signing a deal only the day before the Inquiry opened) raise serious questions in my mind as to the capacity of this institution to deliver meaningful and relevant Higher Education provision in Swindon.  I am taken with Komadori's suggestion that we should be looking to existing FE institutions within Swindon to provide degree courses, encouraging an "organic development" of higher education that would then meet local needs.

Our most successful Universities have evolved gradually; great institutions don't just suddenly appear from nowhere like a Britain's Got Talent contestant "enjoying" five minutes of celebrity.  I have been accused in the past of being "against" a University in Swindon.  This is untrue.  What I am against is the "any time, any place anywhere and at any price" mentality is accepted by some in this debate.

Quite- and it also regularly crosses my mind that it seems peculiar that we have 2 colleges competing with each other for students when it might be so much better for them to merge and both actually provide what is offered ratehr than, when you've signed up, find out there aren't enough students to warrent running the course or they can't find a lecturer.

Some "excellence" in the delivery of existing courses and a reputation for good administration would be appreciated. Combining their resources and allowing them the chance to evolve into providing degree  level courses makes a whole lot of sense and always has.

Offline Justin Tomlinson

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Re: University?
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2009, 07:23:36 PM »
Has a merger been considered in the past?

Offline komadori

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Re: University?
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2009, 07:42:11 PM »
serious questions in my mind as to the capacity of this institution to deliver meaningful and relevant Higher Education provision in Swindon.

On the face of it UWE is just the sort of institution Swindon should be trying to attract -- if it is intent on importing an outside institution, that is. However, it is only on the face of it. UWE seem to have a very effective marketing department and have nurtured their brand as a place offering 'vocational' education very carefully. ???

Our most successful Universities have evolved gradually; great institutions don't just suddenly appear from nowhere like a Britain's Got Talent contestant "enjoying" five minutes of celebrity.  

There is also a need to be clear on what sort of 'great institution' they're aiming for. Education institutions that are great at feeding industry rarely get described as 'great institutions'; the establishment bias for 'traditional' education has always ensured that.

Some "excellence" in the delivery of existing courses and a reputation for good administration would be appreciated. Combining their resources and allowing them the chance to evolve into providing degree  level courses makes a whole lot of sense and always has.

I think for the "develop an FE college into a university college" scenario it would be best to keep them separate, otherwise we'd ultimately end up without an institution that regarded FE as its prime purpose, and FE might suffer.
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Offline Tobes

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Re: University?
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2009, 08:02:38 PM »
I completely agree with Komadori's comments...

Quote
However, it is only on the face of it. UWE seem to have a very effective marketing department


... yes, which lead me to conclude that if they had been successful, that 'Swindon' wouldn't have featured in the name of the development. Probably some ghastly contrived (not to mention, revealing in terms of their actual committment to our town) title like 'UWE - Coate Campus'...
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Offline komadori

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Re: University?
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2009, 08:22:47 PM »
Probably some ghastly contrived (not to mention, revealing in terms of their actual committment to our town) title like 'UWE - Coate Campus'...

As in their Filton site being called 'Frenchay Campus' and their Stapleton site being 'Glenside Campus'? My bet would be on 'UWE - Jefferies Campus'.
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Offline Mart

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Re: University?
« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2009, 08:23:27 PM »
I never went to University, which will obviously come as a surprise to most of you. Ooooh no, I learned in the University of Life. I learned lager made me happy, then when I graduated I learned it made you fat, wrote me thesis and learned it made your head hurt, got a bit older and learned it made you wee a lot.

I like a ginger beer now. (No that is not bloody rhyming slang) and indeed had 2 today at a wonderful hostelry back in sunny Surrey where an old school friend is the chef. Cracking minted shoulder of lamb.

I also learned that the world is shit and run by bastards, a gem I have frequently passed on to you.

Despite this most excellent education I aspire for the young lordship to follow a different road and to have ready access to further formal education. It would be nice if it was local, his mum seems to like having him around.

But.

Having read through the above and taken but a superficial interest in the arguments that got us to this point I am now ready to ask a question, isn't this University stuff a bit superficial? It seems to me that we are ready to accept any half arsed cobblers as long as it can claim credence to University status, bit like buying Lord of the Manorship type thingies on e-Bay, you are a Lord right enough, but everyone knows you ain't a proper one.

Is that where we are now, a sort of we'll settle for anything?
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Offline Robert Buckland

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Re: University?
« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2009, 08:37:48 PM »
It does feel like that, Mart - almost as if Swindon should be grateful for the crumbs off High Table.  It doesn't seem right to me.  Holding out for proposals that are properly and carefully put together is what should happen.
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Offline concerned_of_Old_Town

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Re: University?
« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2009, 08:52:52 PM »
Holding out for proposals that are properly and carefully put together is what should happen.

The trouble is we have been TALKING about having a university together with a town centre regeneration for the last 15+ years (ever since I have moved to Swindon) meanwhile Swindon is going more and more downhill and other places like Bath seem to be going from strength to strength.  

We need action not more talk and maybes!


Offline komadori

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Re: University?
« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2009, 09:21:10 PM »
I think if people worried less about Swindon being the 'largest town without a university' and more about what sort of education Swindon needs, the 'settle for anything that calls itself a university' attitude would be less prevalent. The educational need should come first: what sort of institution provides that education shouldn't really matter as long as the institution does a good job of providing it.

Too often the impression is given that Swindon needs a university to be a successful town (what ever that means). I can think of plenty of towns (e.g. Slough, Derby, Gloucester, Sunderland) where the presence of a university has negligible impact.
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Offline PAV

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Re: University?
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2009, 12:23:15 PM »
I don't understand how a university will help with re-generation. I went to Portsmouth uni and to be honest I don't think it added anything to the town for "normal" (non-student) folk.

Large parts of the Southsea area were given over to student housing, therefore cheap, high density and empty over the Summer.

There was a clear definition beween local pubs, student pubs and Matlow pubs - and students would only go to clubs and resturants when they had special students nights on.

If a uni were built in North Star then I can see the Ferndale Road area turning into studentville pretty damn quick.

Offline Tobes

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Re: University?
« Reply #15 on: August 10, 2009, 01:03:24 PM »
Hmmm.. I think that the difference a University would/could bring is more one of 'cultural osmosis'. If you attact people into a town who have some sort of ambition or apreciation of wider values or experiences, then it can have a knock-on effect. It might mean (topically, for example) some more (any!) bookshops, it can also be reflected in things like coffee shops, more cultural events, live bands, theatre, arts etc. Those in turn provide a bedrock of things which are valued by people of a similar outlook - attracting all the more... It certainly seemed during my Uni years at Bournemouth, that despite it being in the main a clearing house for failed public school kids, that lots of interesting things were starting th happen in a town which was otherwise known as Death's Waiting-room, directly due to the Uni. And its not just the students either, don't foget the adult learning and post grads, not to mention the teaching staff and the overseas money finding its way in the local economy.

Having said that, I'm basing my optomistic view on yester-year; it appears that in this age of easy GCSEs and an expectation that pretty much anyone who can walk and chew gum simultaneously can get through to NuLabour Uni (provided that they are prepared to saddle themselves with the massive associated debt). It means, sadly, that a lot of students seem to reflect an 'aspirational view' thats not much separated from the rest of the chav horde: 'Me edjucation's on credit, innit?'... That might take the edge of the advantages of having a Uni - but not completely obviate them.

Perhaps as Komadori has already said, we shouldn't get hung up on the terminology. University, college of whatever - what we need to do is attract bright, interesting and aspirational people to Swindon - as, lets be honest, most people displaying those traits usually can't wait to leave. Some sort of well appointed and reputable seat of learning is a good way to help the process of improving the intellectual stock of the town. But as Mart says, we certainly shouldn't settle for anything - least of all disengenous offers or arguments put forward by people with purely commercial interests.
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Offline Muggins

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Re: University?
« Reply #16 on: August 10, 2009, 04:55:57 PM »
Tobes last papragraph sort of makes me think that he thinks the people already here are thick.

Send out your daughters - mine brought two bright sparks to live AND SETTLE here in the town, just the sort Tobes wants to be here. 

Mind - I'm off to pack my bags.

By the way - the University idea has been around at least thirty years, land at Groundwell was set aside in the northern Development plan for a University and campus up to less than ten years ago. Then they built housing on it.
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Offline Tobes

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Re: University?
« Reply #17 on: August 10, 2009, 06:38:18 PM »
Quote
Tobes last papragraph sort of makes me think that he thinks the people already here are thick

Well, I live here... so I'm either wrong - or thick!

(Eitherway, Pigtown MUST have a disproportionate allocation of thickies: Would any but a town disproportionately 'blessed' by dunces have voted for our two sitting MPs? Would a town of intelligencia have continually have voted in councillors who allowed the planning abortion of the last 40 years?! Would any other town this size manage to support more than ONE bookshop!? The shell-suited, aggro loving, wkd quaffing mouth breathing, phlegm gobbing, aerial bending, crap tagging triple-buggy pushing evidence is all around us. A huge generalisation maybe - but what do people OUTSIDE of Swindon think of the place?... Smoke and fire - one's seldom without the other)
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Offline kecl

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Re: University?
« Reply #18 on: August 10, 2009, 06:39:16 PM »


 what we need to do is attract bright, interesting and aspirational people to Swindon -


You know what?

I reckon those sentiments were the very same ones Brunel and Gooch used to attract the first New Swindonians to this town of ours.

The very same people that built the foundations of todays Swindon.

I wonder how they would have felt about a University here? After all, they were well up for further educating themselves.
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Offline Muggins

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Re: University?
« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2009, 06:53:20 PM »
And we are the product of those people who were attracted here!  So what's happened?
 
Does number bookshops equal brains then? I think not.

True Kelc about educating themselves and they built some of their establishments with their own hands - after work, so not lazy either.

Would a University make the town more intellegent, 'course not.


Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)