Town’s new university aims to help address skills gap in area

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work has started on a new university campus in a South Yorkshire town which is set to play a key part in its regeneration and encourage more people to move into higher education to address a critical skills gap.

The centre on Doncaster Gate, which will provide degrees and other higher level and professional qualifications, is due to open in autumn 2018, and is seen as one of the key ‘game changers’ in the Rotherham Plan 2025 – a strategy to regenerate the town.

In Rotherham, only 23 per cent of people have a higher education qualification, compared to the national average of 36 per cent.

The centre will offer degrees and degree apprenticeships, accredited by Sheffield Hallam 
University and the University of Hull.

Rotherham Council leader Chris Read said: “Having a university centre is a key part of the town’s regeneration and I am delighted that it is going ahead. ”We have a skills gap in Rotherham and that is one thing that is holding the town back.

“But some of our people are also being held back. If they can get better qualifications they will be able to get better jobs, progress in their careers, increase their income and that can only be good for the town.” The 3,300m sq campus will include teaching rooms, IT suites, exhibition space, open plan learning spaces, a café and social areas.

RNN, the largest college group in South Yorkshire, has been working closely with 200 of more than 1,000 employers to develop courses that particularly meet a need for the local economy.

More than 50 are expected to be running by 2020, including digital, creative, health, technical construction, engineering, and leadership and management.

The target is to attract 1,000 additional students over the first five years and it is hoped many of those will go on to create new businesses in the town.

Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership is providing funding of £3.5m, with the balance of the investment coming from within the RNN Group.