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Private University for Wye Campus?

Mar 08 2010 18:53
Lawrence Weetman
The Vice-Chancellor of The University of Buckingham has approached Imperial College, with a view to turning Wye into an "elite", private university.
Imperial College closed the Wye campus in September 2009.

Imperial College has been approached by University of Buckingham Vice-Chancellor, Dr Terence Kealey, over the future of the now-defunct Wye campus, in Kent.

Live! was informed in February that Dr Kealey had been interested in setting-up a new "elite" private university, and mentioned the Wye campus as a potential site.

Dr Terence Kealey, Vice Chancellor of the University of Buckingham.

Dr Kealey has alluded that the new university would be an extension of the current University of Buckingham - the only privately funded university in the UK.

The plans are currently being considered by the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference [HMC], under the scrutiny of independent schools such as St Paul's and Eton.

High Master of St Paul's, Martin Stephen, has described the plan as an "embryonic version of Harvard and Yale", adding that he would "fully support" such a university if it were financially viable.

When approached by Live!, Dr Kealey said: "A group of Wye alumni have approached me to ask if Buckingham would be interested in helping develop the Wye campus. I therefore wrote to Sir Keith asking if we could discuss this. He has agreed to meet me shortly, and his correspondence has been unfailingly courteous which, in the face of the press coverage, I very much appreciated".

The Independent has reported that to set up a university from scratch, budgeting for scholarships for poorer students, would cost nearly £200million - however the paper suggests that the scheme would cost as little as £25million as an off-shoot of The University of Buckingham.

The proposed tuition fees at the new start-up, which would most likely cover subjects such as law and liberal arts, would be around £10,000 - slightly higher that the £8,000 per year charged by The University of Buckingham.

The Wye campus belongs to Imperial and until I have spoken to Sir Keith and ascertained Imperial's plans for developing its own property it would be impertinent of me to say anything more.
Dr Terence Kealey

Dr Kealey refused to give away too much, telling Live! that "the Wye campus belongs to Imperial and until I have spoken to Sir Keith and ascertained Imperial's plans for developing its own property it would be impertinent of me to say anything more".

Meanwhile, an Imperial College spokesperson told Live! that the college "continues to market the main campus of Wye College in the hope of finding an appropriate and sustainable use for the property" and confirmed that Imperial "has recently received an expression of interest in Wye from the University of Buckingham".

The Wye campus has had a chequered history over recent years. Established as Wye College in 1447, it became an agricultural college some years later.

In 2000, Wye College merged with Imperial College after suffering from financial difficulties, and a proposed "Science Park" was later cancelled in September 2006 after complaints from local campaigners.

The campus also attracted anti-fox-hunting campaigns, suffered from huge admin and teaching problems and awarded just 26% of 2007 graduates 1sts and 2:1s before Imperial wound down teaching at Wye and put the campus up for sale with Savills.

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Discussion about “Private University for Wye Campus?”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Mar 11 2010 10:32

It would be excellent news if this went ahead. There's more than enough room for a fifth top-flight university in England, especially one based on a liberal arts undergraduate course, and none of the other unis seem to have the oomph or the inclination to fill the spot.

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