Community, business and political leaders were urged today by the University of Ulster's Chancellor Dr James Nesbitt to grasp the opportunities that the new £250 million Belfast City Campus presents.
Dr Nesbitt told an invited audience at an event on the current Belfast campus marking the granting of planning permission for the development: "A campus of this sizewillprovide opportunities– not just for this University but also for our partners in devolved government departments, Belfast City Council, political, businessand community representatives– opportunities for business, opportunities for retail outlets, opportunities for catering establishments and opportunities for social enterprise.
"Through our Public Sector Working Group and community engagement model,the Universitywill work hard with all ourpartners to ensure Belfast is ready totake advantage of those opportunities.
"The University will, as I said, do its bit. The planning decision allows us to get on with that. But business and community leaders, central and local government will have a vital roletooand I call on you all today– business, government and community -to embrace this opportunity, an opportunity that the Environment Minister Alex Attwood said recently was a once in a generation opportunity."
Dr Nesbitt endorsed the remarks of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard Barnett, welcoming the role central and local government had played alongside the University in securing planning permission.
However he reminded guests that while it was good to get planning permission for the new campus, it was the activities inside the new building that really mattered.
"When I last addressed an audience on this campus, I said thatUlster’s commitment to making higher educationaccessible for a greater number of youngpeople is something I am very passionate about," the University's Chancellor said.
"The location of this campus, the openness of the design – breaking down barriers betweenpeople'sbackground and higher education, developing and growing with the communities in which this campus will live and be a part of– reinforces our ethos."
Dr Nesbitt said the University had also had a long tradition of being at the forefront of embedding employability into the student experience, with many of its courses accredited by professional bodies and building work placements into them. This would be integral to the activity inside the new campus.
"This is a very modern, very forward looking, very outward lookingUniversity whichhasa fantastic reputation for preparing full and part-time students for the world of work," he said.
"Many courses have professional accreditations and the University’s strong associations with professional bodies makes it uniquely placed to offer prospective employers graduates that have been prepared, through excellent teaching and learning and integrated placement opportunities, to make a smooth transition from education into the world of employment."
Artist's impressions of the campus can be downloaded from
TEN FACTS ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER BELFAST CITY CAMPUSThe University of Ulster's new Belfast campus will cost £250 million - £16 million of which has already been pledged by the Department for Employment and Learning and the rest which will be raised and paid off over a 25 year period by the University itself.The Belfast City Campus, which takes in the existing campus as well as the York House, Playboard, Metropole House and Interpoint Buildings, has a 75,000 square metres footprint – equivalent to the size of Victoria Square.There will be public access to the new building on the basement, ground and first floors, with the University reopening York Lane and facilitating public access to the library, eateries on the Frederick Street side of the building and public use of exhibition space and meeting rooms.The new campus, which has been designed by FieldenCleggBradley architects, will boast two landmark lantern buildings – one at the corner of York Street and Dunbar Link and one at the corner of Donegall Street and York StreetOn one side of the Belfast City Campus, the building will be red brick and glass and the other white brick and glass to reflect the pattern of surrounding buildings in Royal Avenue.Under the University of Ulster's plan, the bulk of activity will move from Jordanstown to the Belfast City Campus by 2018 and a total of 12,450 students (6,600 full-time undergraduates and 5,850 part-time) and 1,300 staff will relocate. This will mean around 14,000 students and 1,500 staff will occupy the building over the course of a week. The University's Magee campus in Derry~Londonderry is the only campus which has been earmarked by the University to expand undergraduate student numbers.The University hopes to begin construction on the first phase of the Belfast City Campus this summer and is aiming to complete that by the summer of 2015. It is envisaged work on the substantial part of the development will begin in 2015 and be competed by 2018.The UK Contractors Group estimated in 2009 that £1 billion of major construction generates 32,000 jobs. With a £250 million investment, the University believes there is the potential for 5,000-8,000 jobs across construction and other sectors that support major capital works.The University has been working with partners in government on a CommunityBusiness Opportunities Plan which will capture these benefits for the advantage of the surrounding communities. It hopes to complete and publish this within the next two months.Subject to planning permission, the University will retain its £13 million High Performance Sports Centre in Jordanstown which houses the Sports Institute for Northern Ireland and is used as a training and rehabilitation base by a range of athletes including Olympians, Paralympians, the Ulster rugby team, GAA, boxing, soccer and cricket stars and spend another £6.2 million on enhancing those facilities. The University will also keep its specialist FireSERT specialist engineering research facility on the Jordanstown campus and retain the Dalriada student village.