Uni is open for business
CONTRACT opportunities for local firms could soon be appearing on the University of Bedfordshire’s website as the academic world moves closer to business.
The new vice chancellor of the Luton-based university, former Labour minister Bill Rammell, and his team have made it a strategic aim to increase partnerships with Bedfordshire companies.
Mr Rammell said the university was in the process of seeking companies to provide catering services, which will be a major contract.
And in the future, the new leader of the 24,000-student strong university, said they would look at placing tenders for contracts on the website.
Mr Rammell added that contract opportunites have to be made available on the website of the Official Journal of the European Community (OJEC).
The uni has already invested £180million in student facilities and had plans for another £120million in the coming years. A new £20million Centre for Professional Development is being built in Luton and is due to open in February 2013.
The university estimates that the student population contributes £300million to the Bedfordshire economy every year.
During a get-to-know-you session with members of the press at the university’s HQ in Park Street on Friday (September 28) Mr Rammell said he wanted to increase the number of graduates who get jobs after completing their studies.
Mr Rammell said students were being encouraged to volunteer in the local community to learn skills they will need when the go into the world of work.
Students can also be made available for internships to help local companies achieve growth.
Mr Rammell said: “30 per cent of employers say they would offer an internship – they should approach us to help them deliver that.”
And Professor Carsten Maple, pro vice chancellor for research and enterprise, added: “Businesses should come to us because even if we do not have the skills that companies need at this university we will try and direct them to where they can go.
“It is in our interests to support thriving industry around us.”
Prof Maple said students, inlcuding mature students, could offer companies a fresh approach and the all-important innovation they need to drive growth.
“Our students question things in a way that people who have been used to working a certain way do not,” said Prof Maple. “They test the status quo.”
Prof Maple added that Luton-based airline easyJet had grown by asking questions that broke the status quo, in introducing ticketless flying when others said it could not work.
Turnover at the university has increased from £30million to £130million and Mr Rammell said he wants to get the institution into the top 70 in the country by focusing on the quality and usefulness of the university, including its research, to students who pay up to £9,000 a year in fees.
“We will continue investing,” said Mr Rammell, who represented Harlow in the House of Commons until losing his seat in 2010.
“We are about liberating individuals and fulfilling their potential and I do not have a problem to educate people to drive a competitive economy.
“We need jobs and successful businesses and we need highly skilled and educated people.”
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Weather for Leighton Buzzard
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
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Wind direction: North
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Wind direction: North west