Coventry University plan to offer courses at Dagenham Civic Centre
PUBLISHED: 06:00 27 April 2016
Jon Cruddas MP has backed plans to turn Dagenham Civic Centre into a branch of Coventry University – despite leading a campaign against it becoming a school.
The university, which The Times crowned University of the Year in 2015, plans to offer degrees and apprenticeships while keeping parts of the Rainham Road North building free for community meetings.
The MP for Dagenham and Rainham said he is “delighted” with the plan, despite holding a candlelit vigil to protest against redevelopment at the centre in January last year. He says the new deal removes his previous concern that a private investor could take it over.
“It is still owned by the council and retained for civil activities,” he said. “This deal means it cannot be sold off and brings access to 3,000 university places for local people – all of our objectives have been achieved.”
The higher education facility would be run by the university’s subsidiary company, Coventry University College Ltd, subject to the approval of its board.
Council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell said that if the group approves the move next month, students will benefit from flexible courses starting from £5,846 a year.
“It is a pivotal moment in the borough,” he said. “We have just had our Growth Commission report which said we needed to secure anchor institutions like a university.”
He praised Jon Cruddas’s campaign to keep the centre in council ownership and said the plan to turn it into a university showed the council had listened to residents concerns.
Mr Cruddas added that securing university courses that can be accessed by local people was a fitting way to reward residents who were involved in campaigning to save the centre.
“This is fantastic news, and a vindication of the campaign,” he said. “The people of Dagenham had a fight on their hands but with hundreds of residents coming together for a common cause, this campaign was a real testament to people power and community spirit.”
And he thanked the council for working to improve education in Barking and Dagenham.
“This is an amazing opportunity and I am extremely pleased that the council have secured it,” he said. “I commend all the additional hard work of the council to bring a higher education provision into the area. Together with Barking & Dagenham College and ELUTec this gives the people of Dagenham a first rate educational hub right on their doorstep.”