Peterborough’s new university, ARU (Anglia Ruskin University) Peterborough, has opened its doors for its first students.

The new £30 million university currently offers 27 courses, with an emphasis on science, health and technology, in a bid to help bridge the city’s skills gap. The university has also worked with 170 companies to help co-design the curriculum it offers.

At present, there is the capacity for 2,000 students, with ambitions to grow and offer courses for up to 12,500 by 2030.

According to current data from the Government, 32 per cent of Peterborough’s population holds a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, compares to the 43 per cent national average.

Principal professor Ross Renton said “If you look at Peterborough and the wider region, including the Fenlands, we’ve got a real concern about the level of skills that are here.

“In terms of social mobility and accessing higher education, this is one of the coldest spots in the whole of the country and we’re hoping to turn that around.

“After years of hard work behind the scenes, it was a wonderful moment to welcome over 2,000 members of the local community into University House to experience Peterborough’s new university for themselves. 

“From day one we’ve said that ARU Peterborough will address skills shortages and boost social mobility in one of the most extreme cold spots for higher education progression in the country. We know there’s no shortage of talent here in Peterborough, and our city’s new university will unlock this potential both in Peterborough and the wider region. We are delighted that almost half of all applications so far are from people living in PE postcodes.”

Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, deputy mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said: “A university has been a 40-year ambition for Peterborough, so it was fitting that the community was invited to celebrate the completion of the first campus building.

“It has been delivered on time, despite the challenges of Covid-19 and global shortages of building materials. 

“Initial investment from the Combined Authority has unlocked tens of millions more which has led to two more buildings, including the exciting Living Lab, being fully funded.

“ARU Peterborough will have a transformative effect on the city, addressing low participation in higher education, boosting the economy and business, supporting well-paid jobs and improving people’s access to opportunity. I’m delighted we’re now just weeks away from the start of the first academic year and the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Peterborough and the region.”

Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “This is an important milestone in the history of our city. There are many residents in Peterborough for whom university has previously not been an option. The opening of ARU Peterborough will make university more affordable and accessible to our residents, allowing them to command greater wages in their working lives and increasing the economic prosperity of the city as a whole.”

Image source: ARU Peterborough

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