University of Gloucestershire's expansion given thumbs up
UNIVERSITIES and Science Minister David Willetts has given the thumbs-up to the University of Gloucestershire's plans to expand.
The minister was invited to the university's Park campus by Alex Chalk, who is the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Cheltenham.
He was given a tour of the university's media centre, which caters to undergraduate and postgraduate students.
He was also given an insight into the university's plans to expand, with hopes to sign up 700 more international students.
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They will be based at the Park campus, with plans already in place to create an £8.5 million three-storey teaching centre on the site of the Owen building.
There are currently about 500 international students at the university, out of a total of 4,000.
But the plans do not mean fewer places will be offered to British students, the university has said. Mr Willetts said he was impressed with the work done.
"This university in Cheltenham can be very proud of its work, and it's a very important part of the local community, and certainly a great source of revenue," he said.
"The facilities are great for the students to grow, and there is so much potential here.
"Overall, I am a great believer in the expansion of the university."
He threw his weight behind the plans to recruit more international students.
"I want to see more British students in university, but I also want to see more international students," he said.
"It is a great opportunity for more revenue.
"Each overseas student spends £10,000 to £20,000 a year, and that is great for the local economy." When asked about the clampdown on immigration, he insisted a balance was needed because Britain still wanted to attract the best talents.
He added: "The crackdown is on bogus colleges and individuals who do not have the qualifications. There is no limit on overseas students studying in this country.
"We still want to attract the best people and the best students to universities."
The university's vice-chancellor Stephen Marston said: "I'm very pleased to see the minister here in Cheltenham.
"We want to keep growing and updating our facilities to provide the best now and in the future."