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."