Future of Caerleon campus uncertain
Updated 3:43pm Thursday 10th July 2014 in Gwent news
THE future of Caerleon's university campus hangs in the balance as education chiefs reveal the scope of a review into the university's estates.
The Argus understands that the University of South Wales (USW) Caerleon campus - which includes the iconic 100-year-old former Monmouthshire Training College - needs around £20 million investment to bring ageing accommodation blocks and other buildings up to scratch.
Its future is being considered by USW executives, along with four other USW campuses across South Wales.
This includes the Newport city centre campus, which could be developed into a "university quarter" of the city.
Around 7,000 students are taking full and part-time courses at the Newport and Caerleon campuses, with part-time students studying degrees over six years potentially directly affected by any changes at Caerleon.
The Newport institutions were brought under the USW banner when Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport, merged in April 2013 to form the new institution.
Following a recent meeting of the university governors, options are being considered for the future of Treforest, Glyntaff, Cardiff, Newport and Caerleon campuses including operating Treforest and Glyntaff as a single Pontypridd campus "as soon as reasonably practicable".
The Argus understands the Cardiff campus - the five-storey £35 million ATRiuM - will remain largely untouched due to higher numbers of pupils using the facilities.
University chiefs must provide higher education in some form at Caerleon until 2018 as part of the merger agreement, but the Argus understands this could involve a mixture of further and higher education being provided on the site, and plans for the rest of South Wales could move at a faster rate so they are ready before 2018.
A spokeswoman for USW said the organisation inherited a mix of modern campuses and "older, obsolete buildings needing substantial investment to make them fit for purpose", with their competitors also looking into cost-cutting and boosting their ratings in student satisfaction surveys.
Work commissioned by the governors will look at "concentrating investment strategically on growth areas", including "high-level plans" for future expansion of the Newport city campus.
"This will include looking at options for resulting changes in use of the campus at Caerleon," she said.
The work is currently internal and not yet open to consultation among students, although the Argus understands all students - and staff - will be made aware of the money-saving exercise, and options for the future will be published in September.
It is not yet clear how jobs will be affected although Caerleon courses, if moved, are expected to stay within the Newport area.
The Argus recently reported how English and history courses will finish at Caerleon this year as not enough people have signed up, although some courses have moved to Caerleon and the university has doubled its marketing budget to promote the campus.
Possible changes to part-time learning in the community supplied by USW could also see such courses leave Gwent.