Future is bright for university in Bognor

UNIVERSITY officials vowed to use their powers for the ‘good of the region’ as they announced a £10m investment in Bognor Regis.

Last week, the university revealed it had been granted research degree awarding powers (RDAP) by the Privy Council, meaning it can now award PhDs in its own right.

This week, its vice chancellor Clive Behagg revealed there are big plans in the pipeline for its Bognor-based campus.

A new £10m Institute of Sustainability is proposed for the campus, focused on research in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), which would be a drastic change of emphasis for the university.

“Because we now have the powers of RDAP, we will use those powers for the good of the region,” said Prof Behagg.

“Our Bognor campus is in many ways our regeneration campus. The notion here is that the coastal strip is a deprived area.”

He said the area from Portslade to East Cowes, the holiday destinations of his youth, had suffered over the years as more people went abroad on holiday and were now in need of an economic boost.

“The idea is that local enterprise partnerships, working with local businesses, will undertake regeneration,” said Prof Behagg.

“We can see that with enterprise at Bognor Regis and we’re part of enterprise at Bognor Regis. The idea is to get Bognor Regis as an enterprise zone.

“This is all part of the same notion of developing a successful business in Bognor that will support the development of industry and the enterprise across the area.”

The university has worked in great depth with Coast to Capital, an enterprise partnership aiming to target economic regeneration in the area.

“We think this is a £10m project,” added the vice chancellor. “It’s very much in its early days – we’re developing the business case for it.”

Prof Behagg said over the years, as tuition fee issues created concern, people had worried whether the University of Chichester could sustain two campuses, which could lead to the closure of the Bognor campus.

“I felt it was disruptive for the people of Bognor,” he said. “Four years ago, in 2010, we spent £15m on the Bognor Regis campus. That was a line in the sand to say we’re not leaving, we’re part of the local community.

“It was a strategic decision to stay in Bognor Regis and make it work. Being in Bognor gives us access to all sorts of important agendas.

“I think Bognor Regis has huge potential. I’ve always felt that as a town it had huge potential.”

The new Institute of Sustainability would focus on economic development in the area. There would also be a Centre for Creative and Digital Technologies.