RNN Group’s new £10.5 million University Centre Rotherham (UCR) received a royal welcome this week as HRH The Duke of York KG, officially opened the higher education centre on Doncaster Gate.
The specialist centre for degree and higher-level qualifications right in the heart of Rotherham is helping to reduce the skills gap locally and support the economy as part of the Rotherham Plan 2025.
During the visit, The Duke was welcomed to the new campus by CEO and Principal of the RNN Group, Jason Austin, along with the Vice Chair of the Corporation, Stephen Smith, several members of the Group’s Senior Leadership Team and Governors. Education is one of His Royal Highness’s core areas of focus, with The Duke committed to supporting a wide range of pathways to ensure young people develop the skills they need to become economically active.
The party were firstly shown the story of UCR, dating back to the 17th century when the site was home to Doncaster Gate hospital, right up to autumn 2018 when the first students were welcomed into the brand new purpose-built university centre ready to embark on their studies.
Mr Austin then invited His Royal Highness on a tour of the impressive building introducing staff and students studying within the centre, along with local employers and a range of alumni who have studied higher education courses within Rotherham College, also part of the RNN Group.
The main areas of focus during the visit were Performing Arts where degree students showcased a short performance from Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Media and Photography where key features of the studio were described as enhancing the educational experience and employability skills.
Others included Computing and Digital and Health and Social Care where The Duke had the opportunity to see how students work closely with local employers on live projects to ensure skills and experiences gained at UCR are relevant for the workplace. Students also demonstrated how the state-of-the-art facilities within the UCR are dedicated to providing all learners the opportunity to study their degrees locally without compromising on quality.
UCR’s facilities also include specialist teaching areas, seminar and lecture rooms, a modern library, café and both independent and group study spaces. The specialist centre has recently been rated ‘Gold’ under the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the highest quality in the UK, boasting exceptionally high learner satisfaction feedback and rates of progression into further study or employment.
Investment in facilities, staff expertise, a comprehensive employer network and excellent location in the heart of Rotherham all enable the new University Centre Rotherham to deliver Higher Apprenticeships and accredited, cost-effective degree courses in a wide range of subjects such as Engineering, Health and Social Care, Business, Computing, Performance, Media, Graphic Design, Education and many more to local people.
A commemorative plaque was unveiled by His Royal Highness, marking the opening of University Centre Rotherham as a key local Higher Education provider.
In March 2012 The Duke opened Rotherham College’s Wentworth building offering specialist facilities in Computing, Business and Accounting. Rotherham College is part of the same educational and training group as University Centre Rotherham, the RNN Group which also incorporates North Notts College, Dearne Valley College, RNN Training and other subsidiary training organisations. This continued investment in high quality education provision is aimed at increasing access to higher-level skills and, with the addition of University Centre Rotherham, higher or degree-level qualifications.
CEO and Principal of RNN Group, Jason Austin, said: “With the official opening of our brand new University Centre Rotherham, we are proud to be extending our continued commitment to excellent education and training provision so that local people can now study degrees in the heart of Rotherham.
“We recognise this as an exciting step toward reducing the local skills gap and supporting the regional economy. We are delighted that the centre has been officially opened by HRH the Duke of York KG and hope this raises awareness of the significantly-improved access to local higher or degree-level qualifications.”