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David Ellesmere: University of Suffolk will transform Ipswich

It’s hard to overstate just how important it is that Suffolk will now have its own fully independent university, writes David Ellesmere.

It may have come as a surprise to some that UCS wasn’t already a full university. Most of us have called it “the University” for years.

But it was actually “owned” by the two universities that set it up – Essex and UEA.


We should be forever grateful to these institutions for setting up UCS but their continued involvement was starting to hold it back.

The joint status made UCS’s degrees less attractive to students from abroad – a key source of income for today’s universities. And as the university sector becomes increasingly competitive there were courses that the two parent universities didn’t want UCS to teach because it would take students away from them.

The new “University of Suffolk” – as we will have to get used to calling it from 1st August – will not have these constraints and will be able to fly.

Having a university will transform Ipswich. We have traditionally been a low skill, low wage economy. The university will start to change that.

We can see what has happened in other towns and cities that have gained universities.

More and more youngsters from families that have never sent anyone to university, and never even considered it, will be able to see what it is all about and think: “I could do that”.

Students who have studied degrees in Suffolk will stay and get jobs here.

Firms based in Suffolk, unable to expand because of lack of skilled workers, will be able to do so.

There will undoubtedly be more money in the local economy to the benefit of everyone.

I am convinced that in 50 years when people look at what Ipswich has become and ask: “what made the biggest change over that time?” the answer will be very simple: the University of Suffolk.

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