PLANS for a new "international gateway" college at the University of York have been revealed.

The project, called the Piazza Learning Centre, would be built on the university's Heslington East campus and one of its roles would be to offer English language preparation for overseas students looking to do their degrees in York or at other UK universities.

The building would be opposite the existing Ron Cooke Hub and include 34 teaching rooms as well as other teaching areas, a 350-seat lecture theatre which could also be used as a conference facility outside term time, a library, social facilities and a restaurant capable of seating up to 360 people.

Detailed proposals for the scheme have been submitted to City of York Council.

The project is intended to be a joint venture between the university and a commercial partner, INTO University Partnerships, with statements sent to council planners saying it was seen as "a foundation college".

Its northern wing and the lecture theatre would be used by current undergraduates and postgraduates, with other classrooms and laboratory space used for foundation degree courses for international students.

O'Neill Associates, the university's planning consultants, said the first enrolments are expected in September 2015 and 600 foundation students are set to be studying there by 2020.

New accommodation will be needed through the third "cluster" of the Heslington East development, although it will not be ready until 2016, meaning a new influx of students having to live in purpose-built blocks already built or due to be opened off campus.

"The construction of the building, and the completion of the piazza alongside it, represents another important step for the university in realising its vision for the campus," said the firm's planning statement.

"The proposed learning centre will occupy a prominent position within the campus, and the new piazza will provide a high-quality public space at the heart of the campus."

The university has previously said more international students will generate extra funds for staff and facilities and will also raise the university's global profile, despite a source telling The Press that some of its academics felt the scheme was being moved forward too quickly and other universities had lost money through similar schemes or decided not to proceed with them.