Secret plan to open Waltham Forest university campus revealed

The council hopes the campus will “raise the ambition” of the borough’s young people (stock image: Naassom Azevedo)

A university based almost 100 miles away from Waltham Forest plans to open a new campus in the borough in 2023, reports Victoria Munro and Josh Mellor

The University of Portsmouth (UoP) has been in secret talks with Waltham Forest Council about a potential partnership, the full cost of which is still uncertain, for more than a year.

The council hopes the new campus, which will teach both graduate and post-graduate courses, will “raise the ambition” of the borough’s young people, while also boosting the local economy.

The university was attracted to the borough, according to a report prepared by council officers, due to the number of potential students and its ”pro-growth agenda and clear council leadership”.

At a cabinet meeting this week, new leader Grace Williams said: “When [this project] started, there were challenges which existed for young people to be able to excel in the borough.

“Our young people tend to stay at home more than in other areas, so it’s desirable to bring education to them. It’s really exciting to create all of the extra benefits that that kind of high quality campus will bring.”

The report for cabinet noted the council could decide not to partner with UoP but that “this would present a significant disincentive to locate in the borough”.

So far, the two organisations have signed a “non-legally binding ‘joint statement of intent’” to work together and hope to have a full business case finished by December.

This business case would lay out what courses the campus would offer, expected staff and student numbers and proposed locations for the campus in the borough.

In addition to Waltham Forest students, the UoP also hopes to attract students from elsewhere in the UK and lucrative international students, especially at post-graduate level.

It is expected that “an integral theme” of the campus’s courses and research will be “sustainability and climate change”.