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‘Another world-class higher education. opportunity’: OU considers move to new city centre campus

PLANS BY The Open University to move to a new campus in Central Milton Keynes have been described as “potentially transformational”.

The OU has begun work preparing a business case for a world class university based in a sustainable green campus in Milton Keynes city centre. The plans support the city’s wider vison to develop one of the UK’s most vibrant city centres.

The university’s governing Council has agreed to start work on the strategic and financial case for a multi-million-pound relocation of the OU’s existing campus at Walton to a new site next to Milton Keynes Central railway station.

This includes developing a proposal for a new ‘sister university’ serving students who want to study the OU’s online courses in person, supported by teaching on site and a range of accommodation, entertainment and sport offers.

Work on the business case will include input from internal and external stakeholders, including Milton Keynes City Council and the city’s business community about how the campus could better meet the OU’s future needs and the needs of students for future skills.

Council leader Cllr Pete Marland pictured left said: “A move by the OU into the city centre is potentially transformational. It could create another world-class higher education opportunity where creativity meets technology, meaning our young people do not have to move away to study and we can attract students from across the world to study and live in Milton Keynes.”

OU vice-chancellor Professor Tim Blackman pictured right said: “While Walton Hall remains an option for the future, we are focusing our planning on what additional benefits a new city centre site could bring.

“A purpose-built campus at the heart of a thriving business community, within half an hour by train from London, Cambridge, Oxford and the Midlands is an opportunity to reshape our facilities and provision for the decades ahead.”

The OU will work closely with Milton Keynes Development Partnership as the landowner on a proposition to create a smart, accessible and energy-efficient campus to include science laboratories, interactive working and learning spaces, studios, a library and a student centre. It would integrate technology and place-making, optimising working and living experiences for staff, students and other city centre users.

MKDP chairman Nicola Sawford said: “We are very excited about the opportunity to work with the OU on this once in a generation opportunity to reimagine higher education in the city centre and for this to be a cornerstone of the new masterplan for the Lower Westside development site.”

The OU is the UK’s largest university, with over 200,000 students studying from home or work across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Its headquarters have been in Milton Keynes since it began in 1969.

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