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07.02.06
CUC responds to 'The Cornish Brain Drain'

The Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) has given its response to the Liberal Democrats' report 'The Cornish Brain Drain' and subsequent coverage in the media.

Matthew Taylor MP, who launched the report, has expressed his strong support for the CUC, saying: "By giving young people from Cornwall the option to study whilst living at home, having the Combined Universities in Cornwall is a significant help. The CUC does make a real difference, and with expansion will be able to do more, but the government urgently need to find a solution to the real problems of growing student debt and unaffordable housing."

It is not the CUC's place to comment on government policy, however it has provided some figures which demonstrate that the recent expansion of higher education in Cornwall is already playing a key role in helping young people to stay and prosper in the region.

In the 1999 / 2000 academic year, prior to the first phase of investment in the CUC, there were 2,572 full time equivalent students in Cornwall. In the current academic year there are some 4,615 full time equivalent students in Cornwall. By 2010 this figure is set to exceed 6,800. This growth in student places is providing local people with many more opportunities to fulfil their study ambitions close to home.

Applications to higher education institutions for 2006 entry are down nationally compared to 2005. However in Cornwall the picture has never been brighter. Applications to university and college courses offered in Cornwall have remained strong, with marked increases in some areas. Truro College and Cornwall College (both partners in CUC) have reported a dramatic upswing in applications of between 20 and 25 percent compared with last year. The CUC partner universities and colleges have responded in a variety of ways to ensure that potential students from lower income families are not deterred from studying, including discounted fees and non-repayable bursaries. For example, Cornwall College is offering a £800 fee waiver for its honours and foundation degree courses, whilst the University of Exeter is offering 70 bursaries of up to £4000 per year for local people wishing to study on one of its courses in Cornwall.

CUC is also working to enhance the employment opportunities available to graduates. Since April 2004 the Unlocking Cornish Potential scheme (a CUC project managed by Cornwall College) has placed 134 graduates in Cornish companies. Graduates starting a UCP position receive an average salary of £17,650, and to date over 70% have been offered full-time jobs at the end of their placements.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics, based on registrations at GPs' surgeries, show that attempts to reverse Cornwall's brain drain are already bearing fruit. In the 12 months to September 2001 Cornwall had a net outflow of 995 fifteen to nineteen year olds. In the 12 months to September 2004 this figure fell to 395. Commenting on these statistics, a recent Cornwall County Council report stated: "It seems entirely reasonable to conclude that as more educational (and employment) opportunities are offered there will be continued real falls in the numbers of 15-19 year olds who leave Cornwall." In the wider fifteen to twenty-nine age range Cornwall now has a net inflow of several hundred people, compared with a net outflow of over a thousand in 2001-2002.

Professor Alan Livingston, Chair of the CUC Steering Group commented: "The report produced by the Liberal Democrats underlines the case for continued expansion of higher education in Cornwall. As well as providing more opportunities for people to study within Cornwall, the research and business support activity associated with university-level education acts a catalyst, spinning out new knowledge-based businesses and helping existing companies to use knowledge to stay ahead of their competitors. This results in the kind of well-paid employment which allows graduates to stay and prosper in Cornwall. So much has been achieved already, but bear in mind that the second wave of new university-level facilities for Cornwall is still being built, and our thoughts are already turning to the role higher education can play in the region's economic regeneration as Convergence funding becomes available for 2007 - 2013."

For further information please contact David Kirk in the CUC PR & Communications Office on 01326 370471 or email: david.kirk@cuc.ac.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Combined Universities in Cornwall Project, both Phase 1 and Phase 2 through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF).

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Editor's notes:

The Combined Universities in Cornwall is a dynamic and visionary partnership that is one of the driving forces behind Cornwall's renaissance. This partnership combines the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, University College Falmouth, The Open University, The College of St Mark & St John, and the Peninsula Medical School, with Cornwall's Further Education colleges - Cornwall College, Truro College and Penwith College. It aims not only to provide the students of the future with more choice and greater opportunities, but also to boost the economic fortunes of the region for the benefit of one and all.

Phase 1 of the CUC initiative has been invested in by the Objective One Partnership for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, the South West Regional Development Agency, Cornwall County Council, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Phase 2 of the CUC initiative is being invested in by the Objective One Partnership for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, the Department for Education and Skills, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, and the South West Regional Development Agency. The CUC is the flagship project of the Objective One programme.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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