Merger of specialists to create Arts University Cornwall

The South West region is a step closer to having a specialist arts university with the news that University College Falmouth and Dartington College are to merge.

The merger in April between the renowned design, graphics and media school, and the music, theatre and dance institution, will pave the way for the new specialist Arts University Cornwall by 2012, says University College Falmouth principal Alan Livingston (pictured).

Livingston explains that Dartington’s need to find new premises was one of the prime motivations behind the merger.

‘One of the main reasons for the merger was that Dartington needed to find a new home, as it has been at the Dartington Hall Trust for more than 45 years now. It employed a consultant to look at various options, and one of those was to merge with Falmouth,’ says Livingston.

Dartington is expected to relocate to new premises at the University of Falmouth by 2010. A masterplan for the specialist dance, drama, theatre and music facilities needed is currently being drawn up.

Building work is scheduled to commence by the end of the year, while an architect and an interiors team are expected to be appointed through the Official Journal of the European Communities in the coming months. The new facilities will be expected to cater for a combined student population of about 4000.

Funding for the £25m merger project has come from the South West Regional Development Agency, the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the European Union Convergence Partnership, which has donated about £16.5m.

Livingston explains that being able to contribute to the economy of the region was a major factor in influencing where the funding came from.

‘The Convergence Partnership formed a major component of the funding,’ he says. When we were putting forward proposals for the funding, we had to show how what we wanted to do would help regenerate the area and contribute to a better economic performance. Historically, Cornwall has been a poor county with low wages, a high migration rate and no real academic infrastructure. The merger will hopefully make the region more independent and sustainable economically.’

By offering what Livingston claims is a ‘unique’ combination of arts courses spanning design, graphics, media, art, dance, theatre, drama and music, the merged higher education institution will be able to apply for specialist university status by 2012.

Background to arts merger

• University College Falmouth was founded as the Falmouth School of Arts in 1902
• UCF has about 2200 students and is based at two campuses – Woodlane Campus in Falmouth and Tremough in Penryn, which will form the hub of the combined initiative
• UCF offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in design, art and media
• Dartington College was founded in 1961 by the Dartington Hall Trust and specialises in contemporary performance arts
• Dartington has 680 students, across undergraduate and postgraduate research programmes
• Arts University Cornwall, the combined university, will offer specialist undergraduate, postgraduate and research programmes across all areas

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