As Cheltenham vies to become cyber capital of the UK, the University of Gloucestershire is taking its next step towards becoming a centre of excellence for computing and digital technologies by unveiling exciting new plans for a cyber learning hub.
With the Golden Valley development underway, cyber is key to Cheltenham's economic future — making the university's central Park Campus the perfect location for the proposed new teaching and learning facility, made possible thanks to government funding from the Office for Students.
The £5.8 million hub will provide the latest digital and cyber technologies to teach students essential cyber skills, with a learning space that closely resembles the environments they'll encounter when working in industry.
New state-of-the-art laboratories will feature innovation testbeds for the application of advanced and emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, big data analytics, blockchain and cyber physical systems, and will also be used as learning spaces for fast-growing multi-disciplinary subjects like HealthTech, EduTech, LegalTech and Bio-Informatics.
Plans for the development include demolishing the outdated Reynolds building on Park Campus in autumn 2023, subject to demolition permission being granted, to make way for the new learning centre. Then, if planning permission is granted, building work on the cyber hub could start as early as December 2023.
The centre will be available to students studying traditional degrees, higher apprenticeships, professional short courses, Digital Skills Bootcamps and new Higher Technical Qualifications at the University of Gloucestershire.
And if plans are approved, it's hoped that they will be able to move into the new learning centre by spring 2025.
University of Gloucestershire Vice-Chancellor, Stephen Marston, said: 'The redevelopment of the Reynolds Building will provide a new centre of excellence for digital technologies in the heart of Cheltenham, helping to address the UK-wide cyber skills gap by educating the computing and engineering leaders of the future.
'It will also build on the university’s existing links within the burgeoning cyber sector in Cheltenham and the south west, working with these partners to increase the appeal of STEM subjects, with a particular focus on making study and careers in this area more accessible and attractive to women and neurodivergent individuals and raising aspiration in disadvantaged communities.'
The full plans are available to view on the Cheltenham Borough Council planning portal and the University of Gloucestershire has also created a website to provide regular progress updates — including any movement on dates, news of possible disruptions to residents and frequently asked questions.
Anyone interested in hearing more about the plans is welcome to attend a drop-in session with representatives from architects Austin-Smith:Lord, contractors Kier Group and the University of Gloucestershire on Wednesday 9 August 2023 — taking place in the Owen Building at Park Campus between 4.30pm and 7pm.
Marston continued: 'Supporting a key economic priority locally and nationally, this new centre will help forge Cheltenham’s position as a world-class hub for cyber and computing. I’d encourage people to come to the drop-in session to find out more, ask any questions and to feed back through the consultation.'