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10 December 2004

Bretton students move to Leeds
Bretton teaching and research will be relocated to the main campus of the University of Leeds in summer 2007, the University’s governing body, Council, has decided. The move underscores the University’s commitment to develop performance and cultural industries as a long term core activity of world class excellence.

University Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Arthur said: “Our vision is to develop a world class centre for creative and performing arts, through integrating Bretton’s strengths with arts excellence at Leeds. Its programmes will be cutting edge, based on research of the highest quality. We will provide our students with the best facilities, the widest range of study opportunities – and ready access to one of Britain’s cultural capitals.

"We recognise the affection in which Bretton is held by generations of staff and students, but the site is no longer sustainable financially or academically. We believe that this decision is the best possible for our staff and students, for future generations, and for the University as a whole."

The University is planning to build a new £1.5m theatre at its city centre campus, including a 200-seat auditorium, dressing rooms, workshop and store and a production and design ‘black box’ theatre. Other facilities being planned include a performance design studio and costume design/storage and space for rehearsals, dance, seminars and meetings.

The University is also talking to Leeds City Council about a new cultural collaboration giving students access to the city’s new Carriageworks Theatre and arts centre in Millennium Square – a 350-seat venue and 80-seat auditorium due for completion next year. Leeds University Union communications officer Tom Wong said: “We are very relieved that a decision has been made, and we look forward to being involved in developing world-class performance facilities at Leeds for the relocated Bretton students and the wider student population.”

Bretton relocation will take place over the summer of 2007, with all facilities in place for the start of the academic year. The timing means that all current Bretton undergraduates will be able to complete their studies there. Students recruited to the school of performance and cultural industries at Bretton in 2005 and 2006 will move to Leeds in 2007. It has been agreed that 150 students will be recruited to courses at Bretton in September 2005, with another 25 students to creative writing within the faculty of performance, visual arts and communications.

An ‘implementation’ team supported by a number of working groups is being set up to ensure that staff and students are fully involved in the relocation, disruption is kept to a minimum and that all issues are given proper consideration, including teaching provision, facilities, support, resources, accommodation, communications and human resources.

The future direction of performing and cultural arts at Leeds will be determined in the light of recommendations from an academic advisory group which reports next Easter. Academic staffing for the school of performance and cultural industries will be agreed once the shape, size and direction of research and teaching have been finalised. Clerical, technical and ancillary staff will be offered redeployment and/or relocation to Leeds, or enhanced terms for voluntary severance or early retirement.

Council’s decision follows an 18-month review of the Bretton and Wakefield campuses, which together are losing around £2.6m a year. Both are to be sold. The University remains committed to offering educational opportunities in Wakefield, and teaching activities will be relocated within Wakefield once new premises have been identified. A strategic plan for the city is being drawn up and the University is discussing a range of opportunities for widening participation and knowledge transfer with organisations including the local authority, businesses and cultural organisations.

For more information, please contact:
Head of communications Vanessa Bridge on 0113 343 4031.

Notes to editors
1. Bretton Hall College merged with the University in August 2001. The College was in jeopardy, and without the merger it would have closed. The merger saw a number of new, successful courses launched including popular and world music, cultural theory and analysis and contemporary art practice.

Strategic relocations took place to bring together staff and students in closely-related subject areas. Printed textile design, fashion and graphics students from Bretton were brought to Leeds to join textile students in a new school of design. The school has doubled in size since relocation and now has over 1,000 students, benefiting from the city’s thriving fashion scene. Teacher training was also consolidated at Leeds, creating a new centre for primary education and childhood studies in the biggest institute for education in the north of England. Music students came to a new purpose-built centre adjoining the newly-refurbished Clothworkers’ centenary concert hall.

2 The University of Leeds received £7.1m from the Higher Education Funding Council for England to support the merger, including £4.6m for new and refurbished buildings to accommodate students of music, education, design and fine art relocated to Leeds and £1.1m for a new performance centre at Bretton. The University invested another £4.6m from its own reserves to give the merger every chance of success - on the project itself, on recruitment, new IT systems, library facilities, student services and staff.

3. A review was launched into activities at Bretton and Wakefield in the summer of 2003. Staff, students and a wide range of external stakeholders have been invited to contribute, and trade unions have been consulted throughout the process. Options were evaluated against criteria including the need to achieve and sustain world-class academic performance; providing the best possible learning and teaching environment for students and staff, and financial viability.

4. There are around 950 students at the Bretton campus in the school of performance and cultural industries. Another 250 students are studying at Manygates in Wakefield for social work and counselling awards, preparation for higher education and foundation degrees in family support and teaching and learning. Around 45 academics and 110 support staff work at Bretton and Wakefield campuses.

5. Full-time students at Wakefield will be able to complete their courses in the city. Future arrangements for part-time students, who may be on courses lasting up to six years, will be made when more is known about alternative sites. These arrangements will be made in full consultation with these students.

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