Will Weston become a university town?

WESTON College’s principal has called for a university to be established in the town - and says it is ‘crucial’ if the area is to thrive.

Dr Paul Phillips spoke out about his desire to transform the college into a university at an annual meeting for college partners, local business representatives and North Somerset Council officials.

He said: “The greatest accolade Weston could have is for it to become a university town. A higher education establishment is crucial for North Somerset within the next five years.

“Already, a significant proportion of our undergraduates are coming from across the UK and this year we’ve noticed that more people are coming into North Somerset to study than are leaving it, for the same reason.”

Students at the college have expressed their own need for a university, as the cost for higher education rises and many feel they cannot afford to leave home.

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Pheonix Jones, aged 16, of Locking Road, Weston, studies business at the college and said: “I want to go to university and I was thinking of Bristol, but if there was a university in Weston it would be far easier and more enjoyable.

“I want to stay close to home and I would save so much on travel and accommodation.”

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Dr Philips pointed out at the meeting that this year there was a 100 per cent pass rate in the degrees offered by the college and 85 per cent of graduates have found employment.

Zoe Sayse, aged 36, of Milton Road, Weston, is taking a barbering course at the college and said: “I’m hoping to go to university and I would like to start in Weston.

“Having a university close to home would be great and I think that more students in the area would bring more money to the town and improve the economy.

“I think a university in Weston could be a place for people to aspire to.”

The idea of Weston College developing new models of education correlates with the Government’s ambition to open new learning organisations across the UK. And Lord Baker, former education secretary, will visit the college to talk about its university aspirations next week.

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