Former UTC building to be brought back into use as Burnley's 'university town' dream edges closer

The University of Central Lancashire has reached a major milestone in its plans to increase the number of university students studying at its Burnley campus.
Victoria Mill, the former University Technical College building.Victoria Mill, the former University Technical College building.
Victoria Mill, the former University Technical College building.

The official signing of the lease to acquire Victoria Mill, the former University Technical College building, will kick-start the university’s educational blueprint for the town and the wider East Lancashire region.

Numbers of university students in Burnley are set to rise from under 400 to 2,000 by 2021 and up to 4,000 by 2025.

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Working in collaboration with its strategic partners Burnley Borough Council and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, and alongside the Burnley Bondholders group of influential local business leaders, the university’s education strategy for the region is designed to meet the existing and emerging skills’ needs of Burnley and East Lancashire.

Dr Ebrahim Adia, David Taylor and Coun. Mark TownsendDr Ebrahim Adia, David Taylor and Coun. Mark Townsend
Dr Ebrahim Adia, David Taylor and Coun. Mark Townsend

David Taylor, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the University Board, said: “The acquisition of Victoria Mill captures the university’s ambitions and aspirations for the future prosperity of Burnley and the wider region.

“We will invest in state-of-the-art technology to provide new opportunities for talented people from all walks of life and provide a skills supply that will maximise the university’s social, environmental and economic impact.”

From its existing Burnley Campus at Princess Way, operating alongside Burnley College, the university already delivers a range of courses at foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate level with students on the university’s prestigious MBBS medical degree also being taught at the campus.

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The university’s vision for Victoria Mill is that it will play a major role in the expansion of UCLan Burnley’s course portfolio which by 2025 will include undergraduate and postgraduate courses focusing on advanced manufacturing; healthcare, fitness and social care sectors; aerospace; the creative and digital media sector; social sciences; business services and leadership and management.

Degree apprenticeship programmes, linked closely with local employers and skills needs, will play a major part in the university’s educational offer. Targeted research investment in a number of relevant areas, including advanced manufacturing, digital, health, business and community leadership, will also be a priority.

Dr Ebrahim Adia, Provost at UCLan Burnley, added: “Acquiring Victoria Mill means we are entering a new era in our educational vision for Burnley. We will invest in flexible learning spaces and a new clinical skills lab supported by the latest technology to deliver a truly customised learning experience.

“Overall the university aims to provide a step change in extending its successful work to raise the educational aspirations of young people and under-represented groups from Burnley and beyond so they can reap the life-long benefits that higher education can bring.”

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Coun. Mark Townsend, leader of Burnley Council, said: “It’s wonderful to see the former UTC building be brought back into use by UCLan as part of its ambitious expansion plans to increase student numbers in our town to 4,000 by 2025.

“Victoria Mill is a landmark building in the historic Weavers’ Triangle and no-one wants to see it lying empty and unused which is why the council warmly welcomes this move which has come about thanks to our work with the university and its commitment to Burnley.

“The council fully supports the drive to make Burnley a university town with all the positive impacts that will have for our borough. We’re working closely with UCLan to raise education and skills levels among our young people so they can help drive forward our future local economy with their enthusiasm and imagination.”