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Farron issues challenge to new Vice Chancellor over the future of Ambleside Campus

February 14, 2011 1:34 PM

TF Ambleside protestSouth Lakes MP Tim Farron has today issued a pubic challenge to the newly appointed Vice Chancellor of the University of Cumbria, Professor Peter Strike. In congratulating him on his appointment, Tim has also challenged Professor Strike to set up a review into the potential to bring back more undergraduate students to Ambleside.

The New Vice Chancellor is currently Deputy Vice Chancellor at University of Sunderland, and Professor of Genetics.

The crisis hit institution had been left reeling by a series of disasters over the last 18 months. The cash strapped university came close to not paying its staff's wages recently. The University of Cumbria, which was nearly £30m in debt, had to receive a cash advance from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) just to pay the salaries and keep the lectures teaching students. Tim Farron played a key role in ensuring that the University got this advance which enabled it to survive.

All this culminated in the sudden departure of the previous Vice Chancellor Peter McCaffrey and half of the university's governing board. As part of the plans to plug their massive deficit the university came forward with proposals to close the Ambleside campus and move all their students to other sites. Tim led a strong community campaign that meant the proposed 'mothballing' of the entire campus was watered down and instead many students were kept on the campus. An increased number of students will be studying there in September.

Plans are about to be consulted on by the Lake District National Park authority about what local residents would like to see happen with some of the buildings that the University considers to be surplus to requirement in Ambleside.

Tim said: "I'm delighted that the University has appointed Professor Strike. As new Vice Chancellor, I urge him to make best use of the jewel in the University's crown at Ambleside. This is the chance for him to commit that one of his first acts in charge will be to commission a study that will look at placing more students at the campus. There is, for example, huge potential for the University to move courses such as English from Lancaster to the land of Wordsworth in the beautiful Lake District.

Our community must be the only area in the country where local residents come out onto the street to keep their students! We worked with the university and supported it's creation - support goes both ways and now it is time they lived up to their side of the bargain."