She was speaking after officially opened the new university centre on Monday. She was joined by a host of civic figures and business representatives including the city’s two MPs and the Mayor.
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government said: “Education is the key to helping people fulfil their potential and enabling the country to compete on the world stage. An undergraduate university is the next natural step for a city with ambitions to be one of the best places to live, work and raise a family,”
She continued: “This University Centre isn’t imposed from above; it’s rooted in local ambition. And although in the long term the University aims to reach out to the world, it is also committed to staying true to the community’s aspirations, reinforcing a sense of local ownership and pride that will help it flourish.”
The University Centre has been developed thanks to a ground-breaking collaboration led by Milton Keynes College and Milton Keynes Partnership. Milton Keynes Partnership provided an investment of £7.3 million to purchase and refurbish the building, which includes an impressive CISCO IT Academy, state-of-the-art graphic design studio and stunning atrium gallery.
Dr Ann Limb, Chair of Milton Keynes Partnership Committee said the university was at the forefront of another strategic development in the growth and prosperity of Milton Keynes.
She added: “We have come a long way and so many individuals and organisations have been involved in making it possible – educators, administrators, architects, planners, service providers, academic partners, civic leaders – all have played their part. Together we have learnt that all good things come to those who roll up their sleeves and make it happen.”
Milton Keynes College principal Rob Badcock said: “Thanks to the foresight and commitment of the local Milton Keynes community, we now have a stunning new university centre that is delivering a high quality educational experience to many students.
“Our task is to deliver the workforce of the future, and equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to sustain a successful economy in Milton Keynes. The vision is one of a centre of excellence at the heart of the city.”
Based in the business district at 200 Silbury Boulevard, UCMK welcomed its first students in September and already has 500 people studying a range of Foundation Degrees and other professional qualifications.
UCMK enjoys a close and effective partnership with local universities including the University of Bedfordshire, which validates the majority of UCMK Degree courses, the University of Northampton, the Open University and Oxford Brookes. This means that students can study for a degree in Milton Keynes.
“UCMK is committed to the MK community,” said Dr Keith Straughan, Dean of UCMK. “We believe that high-quality education is a key contributor to the health and vitality of a community.
“Of course, really good university education is underpinned by high-quality research. Already we have committed to working with our partners on R&D. The Milton Keynes Science Festival is now based at UCMK. Also, to help the process of knowledge transfer, we have built incubator space for local start-up companies in the very heart of UCMK.”