‘Modern University of the Year’ set to move into Dagenham Civic Centre

The future of the Civic Centre in Dagenham could be secured if a plan to transform it into a new site for Coventry University is agreed.

Coventry University, through its subsidiary company, Coventry University College Ltd, would offer a wide range of full-time and part-time courses including degrees in accountancy, business, law, engineering, science, finance, health and social care, IT, marketing and tourism, counselling, early years and policing.

The Uni@Work division would also be delivering Higher and Degree Apprenticeships through partnerships with local businesses.

At the same time, the Civic Centre will remain available for meetings by the local community.

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas, who spearheaded a campaign for the Civic Centre to be retained, welcomed the news.

He said: “This is a vindication of the campaign I have run with local residents to save the Civic. It would mean that it will remain at the heart of the community in Dagenham and retain its civic purpose. I am pleased the council has listened to residents and has secured this offer.

“I am also delighted that we will have provision for higher education for local residents on their doorstep. The plan would mean the building will remain open for public meetings and I will continue to hold my advice surgeries there.”

Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Cllr Darren Rodwell, said: “This plan would breathe new life into the Civic Centre and is a fantastic opportunity for local residents who have aspirations for getting a higher education.

“It is a pivotal moment in the borough. We have just had our Growth Commission report which said we needed to secure anchor institutions like a university. That is what we have done. I should also like to congratulate Jon Cruddas for the strong campaign he has run. This shows we are listening.

“The local community would benefit from the wealth of new courses which have a great deal of flexibility. People would be able to do them in their own time, at their own pace and at a price they can afford.” 

All courses are awarded by Coventry University, which was named University of the Year in the Times higher Education Awards 2015 and Modern University of the Year in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016 for the third year running.

This new centre would offer full-time and part-time programmes, including in the evenings and on Saturdays to fit around people who work, have family or caring commitments.  It would also be aimed at students concerned about taking on debts to fund their higher education, as well as helping those combine work with gaining new skills. Students pay from £5,846 per year for a degree course they can take while working compared to at least £9,000 at other universities.

The plan has been given the go-ahead by the CUC Ltd Board and, subject to contract, and will go to the Board of Governors in May.

If contracts are signed next month, CUC Ltd will start marketing and recruitment activities from May and open its doors in September 2017. The Civic Centre will continue to be owned by the council but will be rented to Coventry University on a ten year lease.

John Dishman, chief executive officer and director of CUC Ltd said: “We are pleased and proud to be working to the development of a new centre of university provision in Barking and Dagenham. The courses we seek to offer are particularly related to the world of work, developing our students with the higher level education and skills necessary to help them find graduate level employment.”