Yesterday [Wednesday 24th January] marked a new step in the partnership between Bath Spa University and New City College, as its new University Centre – situated in the heart of Hackney in London – was opened by Turner Prize winner, Bath Spa University alumni and local acclaimed artist, Veronica Ryan, OBE.
The new site, on Hoxton High Street, will offer a blend of degree courses alongside degree apprenticeships, short courses and professional development programmes. The broad, non-traditional offering aims to open access to higher education, and life-changing opportunities, to learners from a broader range of backgrounds.
Professor Sue Rigby, Vice-Chancellor of Bath Spa University, commented on the potential of the new Centre and what it aimed to achieve for the local community:
“We are very proud at BSU to be recognised for our efforts to drive inclusivity in higher education. This new site is the culmination of these efforts over the past couple of years, resulting in a truly collaborative – and community-minded – university hub, offering access to high-quality education to learners from all walks of life.
Bath Spa University is the Sunday Time University of the year for Social Inclusion 2023. Professor Rigby added:
“This innovative new centre provides a blueprint for a more flexible and dynamic higher education offering that embraces and nurtures the different lived experiences of students. With that ambition in mind, we couldn’t think of a better place to position the new site than in Hackney – the very epitome of diversity in London. We look forward to welcoming students who are curious about what future opportunities higher education might bring.”
Hackney is one of the most diverse areas of London, which was reflected in the local council’s decision to pass the first comprehensive motion with regards to Windrush in 2018, and led the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Windrush Generation’s arrival with the first public exhibition of dedicated art in 2022.
This included a sculpture by acclaimed Hackney-based artist – and BSU alumni – Veronica Ryan, who went on to become the second woman of colour to win the Turner Prize. Veronica’s vibrant marble and bronze works situated at the heart of the community, are a nod to the bustling markets of her youth that were synonymous with Hackney as an area.
The centre was officially opened by Veronica Ryan OBE, who joined staff, students and partners at the University Centre, as it celebrated the positive impact that the new learning hub will bring to the local community.
Veronica Ryan commented:
“It gives me great pleasure to be involved with the opening of the new university centre. The non-traditional, flexible courses offer greater access to higher learning and reflect the different needs of learners in the local area. I look forward to seeing the centre thrive.”
Gerry McDonald, Group Principal and CEO, from New City College, spoke about his delight that Veronica was backing the centre:
“We are delighted to welcome Veronica Ryan OBE to officially open the University Centre. New City College’s partnership with Bath Spa University brings increased opportunities of further and higher education and professional qualifications to Londoners.
“Our Hackney campus is the perfect location, combining the best possible learning environment with clear routes to employment opportunities in London and the wider region. We are excited to offer courses that adult learners want and need, while effectively contributing to regional skills priorities.”