THURROCK is to have a University Centre offering degree courses for the first time.
South Essex College in Grays town centre has won the backing of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to set up University Centres to house its higher education programmes.
The College plans to redevelop its Thurrock Learning Campus on the High Street to become University Centre Thurrock, with new degree courses starting in September 2016.
The building is set to receive a Â£1 million facelift, with new windows, external cladding, air conditioning and the latest equipment for its students inside.
Existing higher education courses in Construction, Engineering and Computing & Systems Development will be boosted by a series of new degree programmes including media to support the new Â£800 million TV and film studio project in Purfleet.
Anthony McGarel, Deputy Principal and Chief Executive, said: “This is a hugely significant moment for Thurrock. For the first time, we will have a dedicated building with exceptional facilities for higher education in Grays town centre.”
“This will enable young and mature students to gain degree level qualifications that open up exciting new career opportunities. It is absolutely essential that local people are given the first opportunity to take the high level, skilled jobs that are becoming available locally.”
According to the Higher Education Funding Council for England, just 22.6 per cent of young people in Thurrock are participating in higher education. This is the 14th lowest in England out of 406 local authorities.
Anthony added: “South Essex College is determined to get more people in Thurrock studying degrees. As well as progressing from courses at the College, we want more sixth form students and adults to have the opportunity to study good quality higher education programmes locally.”
Andy Rees, Head of Higher Education, said: “It is very important to us that the degree programmes we offer in Thurrock provide the best vocational and technical training around. That is why were are in discussions with businesses to make sure what we offer will meet their needs.”
The College’s new Costume Construction degree, starting in September this year, has been set-up in partnership with the Royal Opera House (ROH), and is based at High House Production Park in the new Bob and Tamar Manoukian Costume Centre, which is set to hold ROH’s collection of 20,000 costumes and wigs.
Andy added: “The model of our unique Costume Construction degree, in partnership with the Royal Opera House, in a wonderful example of how colleges and universities can respond to a shortage of skilled workers in a particular industry.
“That agreement will be the blueprint of what we will offer at University Centre Thurrock.”