Portsmouth Signs up to Nationwide Agreement

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Portsmouth University has signed up to a nationwide agreement to help the city's economy and the quality of life for its residents.

The university has joined 30 other institutions from across the UK in committing to the Civic University Agreement.

The University will work with local government, employers, schools and colleges to help drive forward economic and social improvement.

Commenting on the agreement, vice-chancellor, Professor Graham Galbraith, said: "Our university is extremely proud of the role we play in the economic and cultural life of this great city and we are determined to do our part to ensure that the city and region have a successful future."

The university signed up to the agreement after a report published by the Civic University Commission identified how universities can support communities to address socioeconomic issues.

Lord Kerslake said: "The deep economic and social changes that are happening in Britain today have made the civic role of universities even more vital to the places they are located in. Universities need to be part of a community which is engaged, supportive and shares objectives."

The agreement will help strengthen relationships between the University and the city's schools and will include campus-based activities for pupils, thereby providing an insight into university life.

Professor Galbraith added: "We already do a great deal, not least our partnership with Portsmouth Football Club, but the report's recommendations give us the basis for discussion with partners for what else might be possible. I believe that it is vital to the University and city that we play a role in raising aspirations and attainment in schools."

Funds Help Connect Businesses with Academics

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Businesses in the south east have been invited to work with academics as part of the EIRA project (Enabling Innovation: Research to Application).

The EIRA project has been granted £4.7m from Research England's Connecting Capability Fund and is now open to applications from businesses looking to innovate by working with universities.

The EIRA network is led by the University of Essex working with the University of Kent and the University of East Anglia.

Professor Philippe De Wilde, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research & Innovation at Kent, said: "Strong university partnerships focus on research as well as innovation. The Connecting Capability Fund has given us the opportunity to bring the best of innovation support together. Artificial intelligence, biotechnology and digital creative are particularly well suited to businesses in the Eastern ARC geographic area. Integrated economies are stronger economies."

With a variety of grants available, it is hoped EIRA will help businesses of all sizes develop new products, services and solutions.

The project supports businesses operating in or seeking solutions from three key areas. Support is offered in the form of Innovation Vouchers to fund access to academic expertise and Research and Development Grants. More opportunities are in development, with Innovation Internships and start-up microfinance.

Partners from industry helping to strengthen EIRA's offering include, BT, TechEast, Agri-Tech East, Digital Catapult and more.

Swansea University Nears Completion on New Institute

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A special ceremony has been held to mark the final step in building a new engineering Research Institute on the Swansea University Bay Campus.

The £35 million state-of-the-art facility will specialise in novel materials, processing and numerical technologies.

The Institute for Innovative Materials, Processing and Numerical Technologies (IMPACT) will facilitate the university's expansion, supporting the local and global engineering industry with collaborative research.

IMPACT is set to officially launch later this year and will provide industry with opportunities for collaborative projects to develop novel materials, products and processes that can be used in the engineering sector.

Swansea University Registrar, Andrew Rhodes, said: "IMPACT is another example of Swansea University leading the way in Engineering - this world class state-of-the-art facility will deliver a transformative research environment for future collaboration between academics and industry in the pursuit of new technology. The laying of the last brick is an exciting moment as we move towards the opening of the building later this year."

St Marks Project Moves Forward

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Demolition works have begun on clearing the site for the redevelopment of St Marks in Lincoln.

Once complete the site will be home to student accommodation, a 1,000-space multi-storey car park, and leisure and retail units.

The former Homebase, Lidl and Topps Tiles, as well as part of the BHS unit have been flattened to make way for the project, which is being managed by Aberdeen Standard Investments.

In total 1,372 student bedrooms will be provided on the site, with the scheme being delivered across a number of phases.

Work is due to start on the site in Spring 2019, but the expected delivery dates of each phase is yet to be outlined.

The original planning application was dismissed by the council but was later granted approval after new designs were submitted.

Coventry Considers Additional Licencing Powers

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Coventry City Council is considering whether to adopt additional powers to help move students away from residential streets.

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are regarded as a major concern for councillors as they make up a substantial proportion of the private rented market.

To tackle their growing use, the council is proposing new legislation that would hand it greater control on houses with three or more people.

It is hoped the new measures will address the impact of poor-quality HMO stock, as well as address anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping and noise nuisance.

Commenting on the idea, councillor Gary Ridley, said: "I think it is something that will help to improve the conditions of HMOs across the city."

"There is considerable concern about the amount of HMOs that we now have and some of these are starting to spread into residential areas."

"We have got a housing crisis in this city and in this country and when you look at the map you can start to see the significant areas of traditional family housing stock are being transferred to HMOs, many of which relate to student accommodation."

Whilst an Article 4 direction can be used tackle the problem, the current proposal is seen as providing a more effective solution, which if implemented will come into force in 2020.

The scheme is proposing that all owners of HMOs with three or more tenants from two or more households apply for a HMO licence, costing up to £1,250.

Applicants must also be able to demonstrate they are sufficiently competent and have suitable funding in place.

UCLan Moves Forward with Burnley Plans

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Business leaders in Burnley have been given the chance to visit UClan's new site called Victoria Mill.

The University of Central Lancashire has had a presence in Burnley for some time but recently acquired Victoria Mill as part of their expansion plans.

The university is hoping to have 4,000 students studying in Burnley by 2025 and purchased the former University Technical College building as part of their growth plans.

The expansion will cater for students studying business and professional disciplines, health and social care, and digital and technical subjects.

They also recently announced plans to build a 136-bed student accommodation development on the adjoining Sandygate Square.

Bondholders heard from the CEO of UCLan, Michael Ahern, that they are ahead of their plans in terms of student numbers.

Commenting on the university's plans, Burnley Council leader Mark Townsend, said: "It is great to see the Northern Powerhouse Minister recognising the expansion of UCLan in Burnley and the partnership it has with Burnley Council which will see the number of students in the town grow to 4,000. UCLan's expansion plans will have a significant impact on Burnley's economy."

Study Inn Announces £20m Investment

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Study Inn Group has announced a £20 million investment to regenerate a landmark building in Loughborough.

The company already manages more than 1,800 student bedrooms across the country and has acquired the former JobCentre building in Lemyngton Street with plans to turn it into more than 200 services rooms.

The new accommodation will be managed under the Study Inn brand and talks are already underway with Charnwood Borough Council's Planning and Inward Investment departments with the goal of opening the site by the start of the 2019-20 academic year.

Study Inn began in Coventry in 2009 and manages 850 student beds in the city.

Commenting on the plans, co-founder Kieran Leahy, said: "We are proud of the work we do and the benefits it can bring to towns and cities and we are actively growing our portfolio."

"We work very closely with local authorities and our business model offers tangible benefits in terms of regeneration, job creation, adding vibrancy to city centres and graduate retention."

Student Flats Proposed for College Site

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Plans are being drawn up to develop a 20-storey building featuring more than 450 student flats on the former Leeds College of Technology site.

Leeds City College is due to open its new £60m Quarry Hill Campus in September, with the new facility expected to welcome 3,000 students.

As a result, the college's schools of Creative Arts and Social Science will be relocated, along with facilities and space for Leeds College of Music.

The move will result in the College of Technology, Woodhouse Lane campus becoming surplus to requirements.

Plans are due to be presented by Metropolitan and District Securities to Leeds City Council's City Plan Panel later this month.

The company is proposing to demolish the existing building, replacing it with a brand-new development with a total of 458 student bedrooms arrange as a mix of clusters and studios. It will also come equipped with three new commercial units and will result in the improvement to the public realm in the area.

The city panel will be asked to give their views on the proposed scheme, including the use of the site as student accommodation.

Kier Awarded Manchester Met Project

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Manchester Metropolitan University has appointed Kier to deliver a 491-bed student accommodation scheme.

The project will result in the construction of three blocks of purpose-built student accommodation and represents the second scheme Kier has been awarded from Manchester Metropolitan as part of its Estates Masterplan.

The proposed accommodation is located at Manchester Met's newest campus, Birley Fields in Hulme.

Kier previously delivered 6 Great Marlborough Street, a facility to provide a smart, attractive environment designed to accommodate professional services teams from across the university to encourage collaborative working.

The ground floor will come equipped with a start-of-the-art gym, as well as study areas.

Managing Director for Kier North West, Peter Commins, said: "This project is a key part of supporting the growing number of students attending Manchester Met and it's our privilege to be again working with the University."

"We are currently delivering 1,345 student beds in projects across the North and are looking forward to continuing our positive working relationship with Manchester Met and utilising our local supply chain throughout this build."

Octopus Property Funds Coventry Accommodation

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Octopus Property has agreed to provide EREC Estates Ltd with a £36 million senior loan for the development of a purpose-built student accommodation scheme in Coventry.

The scheme was brought to Octopus Property by Arc & Co, who advised EREC Estates Ltd on the debt structure. This loan represents the largest single development deal completed by the team within Octopus Property.

The development will consist of two buildings totalling 502 beds, containing a mix of cluster flats and studios. It will also come equipped with a range of high-quality communal facilities and retail offerings.

The property is just a short walk from the main Coventry University campus and is centrally located adjacent to the city ring road.

The 27-month facility marks the third deal between Octopus and EREC Estates, following similar arrangements in Leicester and Coventry. This latest scheme is due to open in time for the 2019-20 academic year.

Commenting on the deal, Gavin Estace, Head of Residential Development at Octopus Property, said: "Whilst we are seeing some geographical polarisation caused by oversupply, the student accommodation sector remains one of the most attractive asset classes for investors. It's a sector that we like, and as long as the broader favourable supply demand dynamics remain in place for this type of innovative and high specification accommodation, we will continue to back schemes that require bespoke and efficient financing facilities."