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A campus for the 21st century
12:00am Tuesday 19th February 2013 in The York Report
The University of York has provided a nurturing environment for the city’s science businesses for decades. As it celebrates its 50th anniversary, the university is cementing its key role in the development of York’s knowledge-based economy with the single largest investment made by any UK university.
The £750 million development at the University of York’s new Heslington East campus, based near its existing campus about two miles south-east of the centre of York, will double the size of the university.
It will increase student numbers by 50 per cent to 15,000, create 2,000 new jobs at the university itself, and a further 2,500 related jobs as well as integrating creative and digital businesses with state-of-the-art research departments.
The development, backed by £17.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund, is a major element of a £19.4 million infrastructure project sponsored by Science City York.
Its state-of-the-art equipment is not reserved for students, but is made available to businesses, from small local enterprises to international companies seeking the expertise of the University of York.
The 116-acre Heslington East site is now home to four new academic departments – the Department of Computer Science, the York Law and Management Schools and the £30 million Department of Theatre, Film and Television (TFTV).
The TFTV builds on the University of York’s existing links in broadcast media, with Greg Dyke, former director general of the BBC its chancellor, and comedian Harry Enfield amongst its alumni. The university is home to England’s oldest student television station, York Student television (YSTV), which was founded in 1967.
The TFTV has its own commercial arm, Heslington Studios, which enables the university’s equipment and studios to provide a competitive advantage to businesses and independent filmmakers who wouldn’t normally have access to such facilities.
The studios are kitted out with two high-definition broadcast television studios, 200-seat theatre, 120-seat preview cinema, multi-purpose sound stage, green screen and audio and video postproduction studios to rival Soho.
The kit has already been used by Al-Jazeera, which carried out post-production of a seven-part series ‘Slavery: A 21st Century Evil’ at the studios, Kudos Film and TV used audition and rehearsal space as well as the help of students on its ITV drama Eternal Law.
Green Screen Productions is also making use of TFTV’s equipment for its new feature film, The Knife That Killed Me, which is to be distributed by Universal Pictures.
Businesses are also based on the site in the Catalyst, a centre for early-stage creative, IT, digital and media businesses, as well as the £20 million Ron Cooke Hub.
The hub, designed to encourage interaction between different sectors and disciplines, hosts young businesses in its incubator space, Springboard, and supports students in starting up businesses by providing hot-desking space through its Student Enterprise Centre.
Its Creative Technology Centre also provides high-tech equipment for the design and build of software and applications and presentation space, both wallmounted in its Exhibition Space, and its 3Sixty demonstration space is a black box with fullwall projections to all four sides and 32 loudspeakers to provide an immersive audio-visual experience.
Its facilities can be used by both students and businesses, also providing conferencing and meeting space including three pods on the campus’s landscaped lake.
The Heslington East expansion also houses two colleges providing student accommodation for about 1,200 students, with another 620-bed student accommodation complex and social hub planned as part of a second phase of works.
In September it opened the new £9 million York Sport Village with competition-standard eight lane 25-metre pool, a full-size 3G Astroturf pitch, three five-aside pitches and a 120-station computerised fitness suite as well as sauna and steam rooms.
The University of York was finally created in 1963 when a royal petition for a charter of incorporation was granted, although a campaign for a university at York dates from at least the seventeenth century.
It is ranked number one in the UK in new Times Higher Education world rankings of universities less than 50 years old, and ranks eighth in the world.
Despite its relative youth the university, which has recently joined the Russell Group of universities, has achieved a consistent top ranking in the UK and is one of just a few post-war universities to make the World Top 100.