Student boom with a business bias

MEDWAY is on course to become a student powerhouse with a university's change of name and pledge to invest £4 million in Chatham Maritime over the next few months.

The University of Greenwich at Medway - formerly the Medway Campus - is doubling student numbers this year to more than 2,500.

It is spending an extra £4 million transforming the campus and by next year will be investing well over £20 million a year. This huge capital programme will bring hi-tech research and science facilities to Medway with the transfer from Woolwich of the School of Chemical and Life Sciences and 1,500 students and staff.

While many students will be bussed in, there is an urgent need for local accommodation. The university is already working on plans for new halls of residence.

In another boost to Medway, the civil engineering department is moving from the university's Dartford campus in September, bringing another 200 students and 15 staff. The Dartford campus closes next year. The university is also setting up a new division of external and combined studies at Medway.

All these moves are expected to lead to more than 2,000 students enrolling at Chatham Maritime in September.

Professor Rick Traynor, vice-chancellor, explained why he had changed the name. "It's an indication of the importance of this campus to the institution and the importance of Medway and North and West Kent to the university," he said.

The university was determined to link up with business and serve the needs of organisations involved in economic regeneration, issues that were critical to Medway and North Kent.

Business studies would be an important part of the university's offer. Prof Traynor also said that the university expertise was on hand to help start-up enterprises. More students would also stimulate more businesses to set up in Medway.

Greenwich is the second university to add Medway to its name. The University of Kent and Mid Kent College recently unveiled the University of Kent at Medway at its Horsted campus.

Greenwich and Kent universities, together with local colleges, are working on trailblazing plans, thought to be unique in England, for a new joint university campus at Chatham Maritime. A decision about funding is expected in the next few months.

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