Plan to create university technical college could revitalise Newhaven

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A BID to create a university technical college in Newhaven specialising in marine and environmental engineering is being made by Lewes District Council.

The council has teamed up with partners Brighton University and the Aldridge Foundation to apply to the Department for Education for funding.

If successful the development could help to equip local young people with skills which will be in demand and revitalise the town.

The district council’s cabinet is being asked to consider and support the joint bid for a university technical college in Newhaven.

This type of college is for 14-19 year olds who can take a technically orientated course of study and are sponsored by a university, often in partnership with a college of further education.

It is designed to offer clear routes into education and further learning in work.

So far 33 of these colleges have been set up, with the aspiration that a further 100 are set up by 2015.

If the district council’s bid for funding is successful, it could see the college up and running next year.

District council leader James Page said: “I see this an opportunity to regenerate Newhaven and provide a wider educational opportunity for the district.”

Newhaven MP Norman Baker said: “I welcome this initiative which I have been discussing with the council for some time.

“It has the potential to boost the skills base in Newhaven and attract considerable investment.

“We do need to make sure, however, that any extra provision properly takes account of, and dovetails with, what is already available through our secondary schools and Sussex Downs College.”

Lewes District Council’s cabinet will consider a proposal to support the bid for the university technical college on Monday October 1.

A bid could be submitted in November and a decision expected in March 2013.

Local businesses have been involved in initial discussions, as have Tideway School.

In a report to cabinet it said there was an increasing role for marine based green technologies, such as wind farms and tidal power, which required the development of specialist skills.

This generates an increasing demand for jobs and skills in engineering consultancy, technical design, energy management, environmental management, waste recycling, construction, installation, manufacturing and financial sectors, and the skilled trades that support them.

The council said Newhaven should be the focus for regeneration because of the prosperity gap between Newhaven and other parts of Lewes District, the difficulty of attracting private sector investment in Newhaven and a high rate of people claiming job seekers allowance.

It said the benefits of creating a university technical college would include: creating entrepreneurial graduates, providing practical skills, attracting students from Newhaven and the surrounding area, who will spend money in the town and strengthening relationships between students and employers.