PLANS have been announced for a significant expansion in the number of students living and studying in Burnley. 

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is drawing up ambitious plans to expand its operations in Burnley which could mean about 4,000 extra students in the town.

The university opened an £11million campus in Princess Way, Burnley, in 2009 and offers undergraduate courses in sports, social care and business management.

Community figures said the move would bring economic benefits to the town with increased spending power from growing student numbers.
They also named the former University Technology College (UTC) as a potential site for the expansion after it closed in July due to falling student numbers. 

The Provost of UCLan’s Burnley campus, Dr Ebrahim Adia, said UCLan was looking at options which would lead to a 'significant expansion' of student numbers in the town. 

He said: "It’s an exciting time for University’s Campus in Burnley.

"Our portfolio, which already includes courses in health and social care, community leadership, nursing, business and management, social work and sports coaching and management has been enhanced this year as we welcome UCLan Medical School students to study at the Burnley Campus.

"We have also successfully recruited this year to our new medical sciences programme and the digital and technology solutions degree apprenticeship.

"We’re working with the local businesses, Burnley Council and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust to ensure that our portfolio is aligned to the future skills needs of the area and also engaging in discussions around the Burnley Masterplan to ensure a thriving town centre with a university at its heart." 

Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Thomas said: "It’s a very exciting time for us to be growing our presence in Burnley. 

"The council is tremendously dynamic and the business community is well-organised and focused on growth. 

"We’re looking forward to working with people and businesses across the borough to help provide the skills and innovation needed to drive this thriving local economy." 

Cllr Mark Townsend, Burnley Council leader, welcomed UCLan's commitment. 

He said: "UCLan’s impact on Burnley has been very positive, and its vision for the next few years will bring further benefits. 

"There is a strong connection between educational provision and the way that Burnley is developing jobs and new industries.

"One example of that is the borough’s latest flagship business park, Vision Park, where there are units for office, research and development and light industrial uses. 

"It is based right next to the Burnley College and UCLan Campus, so that tenants can benefit from access to programmes being run by the educational providers to support their growing business."

Julie Cooper, MP for Burnley, said the move would bring around 4,000 students to the town. 

She said: "We celebrated when UCLan opened in 2009. It has been a very positive relationship and I am delighted they want to expand their presence in the town. 

"I know they are looking at a number of sites and there are lots of locations they could use. 

"The main thing is they have the confidence in Burnley. They want to invest and bring the students in." 

Cllr Gordon Birtwistle, former Burnley MP, said the former UTC site would be ideal. 

He said: "It is already fitted out with classrooms and they could move straight in. 

"It is good news. We want our young people to be educated in Burnley.

"We are short of skills and are a manufacturing town. There are lots companies looking for young people with the skills and I think UCLan will deliver that." 

Over the coming months, UCLan will continue talks with the council and other organisations to look at what properties might be brought into use through the expansion, and to set timetables for offering increased numbers of student places over the coming years.