Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Curse of the Paint Factory?

NO START HAS YET BEEN MADE on the accommodation blocks which were to be a keystone of the re-development of the former paint factory site next to Battlefield (a.k.a. City Stadium). Up Shieldfield Lane the huge new block, not part of the original scheme as presented to the public, is being completed, ready one expects for the new university term in the autumn. Just around the corner another large site on New Bridge Street is roaring ahead.

Why no progress? Surely, the time to begin work has slipped?

If any one has any information I'd welcome it. Treated in confidence.

My own guess is the University has had second thoughts connected to drastic changes in funding: The election of the Cameron Coalition government in May has lead to immediate changes for higher education funding with the official stance now firmly one of cuts to reduce the public borrowing deficit. Institutions are now required to live within tightly drawn boundaries specially recruitment of students.

A major plank in the 'business model' for the universities in the 00s was recruitment from overseas, in particular China. The rapid growth of the Chinese economy and the national demand for graduates there would be met by U.K. universities, who expended much energy on promoting their courses in China. Overseas students also bring in more money. It looked like a winner.

Gold rushes are always for the short term. This particular bubble may now be deflated if not burst. China must also be expecting returning graduates and post-graduates to be earning their keep and centres of higher education within China may now be able to offer as much if not more to their own students as a result of 'knowledge transfer'.

Meanwhile, the paint factory has grown into a fine wilderness of flora and fauna. So far in the last ten years or so three schemes to build over this site have come to nothing. Is this the fourth?

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