D-day looms for university plan

UWS wants to move from Hamilton to Eurocentral
UWS wants to move from Hamilton to Eurocentral

The fate of a proposal to move the University of the West of Scotland to North Lanarkshire could be decided tomorrow (Thursday).

North Lanarkshire Council was approached by university representatives earlier this year about the possibility of switching from its Hamilton site to a new campus off the A8 at Eurocentral.

Council leader Jim McCabe says it’s an “exciting” idea, but there is concern over costs.

The university wants the council to pay for the development which would cost more than £54 million. The university would then lease the buildings.

Another possible site has been earmarked at Hamilton International Business Park, but there is also a strong campaign to keep the university at its current location near Hamilton town centre.

A special meeting of the university court has been arranged for tomorrow at which a final decision could be made.

Kenneth Wilson, North Lanarkshire Council’s acting executive director of regeneration and environmental services, told councillors in a report that the project would support about 850 jobs, provide more education opportunities for the area’s young people and bring other economic spin-offs.

Mr Wilson added: “While risks have been identified, if these can be minimised the regeneration potential for the surrounding area would be significant.”

The hard-pressed council would have to borrow to fund the project.

Mr Wilson explained: “The main risk is the council would have to repay this loan while recouping costs through the lease of the buildings to UWS.

“The concern is the covenant that the university could offer. Universities are funded almost entirely by the Government and there is no certainty UWS would exist for the whole 30 years of the proposed lease arrangement.”

Mr McCabe said the university would benefit existing businesses, Eurocentral and the wider area, but the council had to consider its position before making a “firm commitment”.