Birmingham is now home to five universities after a city college was given the green light to become a fully-fledged higher education institution.
Newman University College in Bartley Green is now a university after the Government approved higher education status the biggest expansion of the sector for 20 years.
It will now be known as Newman University after being awarded full university status by the Privy Council.
It followed the coalition’s announcement last June that red tape barring some smaller institutions from being awarded the title of “university” would be removed. Previously, institutions needed a minimum of 4,000 students to become a university.
This has now been reduced to 1,000, and means Newman joins University College Birmingham (UCB), the University of Birmingham, Aston University and Birmingham City University as fully-fledged universities. UCB became a university in December.
Newman principal and vice chancellor Professor Peter Lutzeier said: “I’m delighted that we’ve now received the green light from the Privy Council to use the full university title.
“It has been a long road to get here but achieving full university status provides welcome recognition for the quality of Newman’s courses, graduates and staff.” News of Newman’s university status came as the institution unveiled a new £20 million campus redevelopment, when Olympic gymnast Kristian Thomas was on hand to officially open the new St Chad building and library.
Newman’s campus redevelopment includes a new-look entrance building, lecture theatres and resource centre, as well as a state-of-the-art sports performance suite and refurbished sports facilities. At the official opening, Wolverhampton-born bronze medallist Kristian demonstrated his gymnastic skills while being filmed using Newman’s digital motion capture technology.
The footage will now be used by staff to help students understand the biomechanics of elite-level gymnasts.
Professor Peter Lutzeier, principal and chief executive at Newman, said: “We’re really pleased with the new facilities and delighted that Kristian agreed to visit the campus for the official opening.
“As part of the most successful Team GB in modern Olympic history, his achievements at London 2012 bringing home a landmark bronze medal for the men’s artistic gymnastics team were truly inspirational and demonstrate exactly what can be achieved with talent, hard work and courage.
“With Newman set to become Birmingham’s newest university, we are entering an exciting new phase in our history so it’s the perfect time to officially open these new facilities.
“It is more important than ever that students not only have access to academics who are experts in their field, but that the resources and facilities available to them are also of the highest standard, so they leave Newman well prepared to make their mark in the world.”
Newman is currently best known as specialist teacher training institution, and has 3,000 full-time students.
It is named after Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, who beatified during the Pope’s visit to Birmingham in 2010.
Newman achieved university college status in 2007, and teaches a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses, while UCB is based in the centre of Birmingham with 7,500 students, and offers a number of vocational and academic courses. Like Newman, UCB is also investing in new buildings for students, with a £50 million development programme well under way. Phase one of a new campus in the Jewellery Quarter will be completed in September and will feature a dedicated postgraduate centre and a 24-hour flexible learning centre. Work on phase two will begin at the end of 2013 and see the development of a new campus for further education students.
Nigel Moss, chancellor of the UCB Corporation, spoke earlier this year of the benefits university status gave to the institution.
He said: “UCB has proudly become one of the five universities in Birmingham, creating a more diverse higher education offering and raising the profile of the city both nationally and internationally.”