It’s been exactly a week since the University announced that they were to open a campus at the Olympic Park in London. Sometimes news provokes an instant response, however I feel seven days is sufficient time to ponder this latest, and significant, change for Loughborough University.
This is clearly an exciting expansion. The Uni can now claim to have a campus in the capital and more specifically on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, an impress page (or two) in any university’s prospectus. I also think that it’s quite a coup for iCity, a “world-leading centre of innovation, education and enterprise” according to their website, who now have one of the best sporting universities in the country on their list of clients.
However, for an ambitious university like Loughborough, is a London campus, just another box ticked off the strategic plan? What are the actual benefits and costs for Loughborough students, present and future?
The new site claims to “attract students from both the UK and overseas who want a London-based education”. Would the London School of Economics or University College London, both of whom are above Loughborough in the Guardian’s University League table, be a better choice for those after a London-based education?
One of the major selling points of Loughborough University is its single campus, which has now been lost, and it’s central position within the UK. If you want both those benefits of being at Loughborough University, you may be a bit disappointed if you’re based in London.
I have fewer doubts about the “opportunities to further enhance its pioneering research and innovation” which are undoubtedly important for any leading university. But how much of the world-leading research conducted by the university directly influences the content taught daily to students? For example, a news piece published on the university’s website recently outlined the “findings from a Loughborough University-led study will help higher education institutions in Africa”.
While I’m sure the London campus will have benefits to Loughborough University in terms of research and reputation, I will wait with anticipation to look at the effects, positive or negative, for students in the East Midlands. Will we notice any difference in the bubble? Will it be like a separate university or, worse still, will postgraduates and researchers be making constant journeys to the capital? Good for East Midlands Trains I suppose.
My main concern, as hinted at in the headline of this piece, is that this is just another box ticked on the Loughborough University strategic plan. Are we simply following the likes of Nottingham University who have campuses in China and Malaysia? Are there not more critical issues which the university should be looking at which will have a greater influence on the day-to-day lives of students?