Northampton uni's £10m-a-year loan repayment on Waterside campus is not 'financial suicide' claim bosses

Are the University of Northampton proposals 'financial suicide'? The BBC has reported that some current and former employees think so.
Are the University of Northampton proposals 'financial suicide'? The BBC has reported that some current and former employees think so.

The University of Northampton has hit back over claims its new Waterside campus will be a £350 million white elephant.

Yesterday, BBC Radio Northampton reported that several current and former university employees had serious concerns about whether the huge new project under construction would be fit for purpose.

Artists' impressions of the Waterside campus.

Artists' impressions of the Waterside campus.

One source told the Beeb that the campus, which will be home to 14,000 students and 2,000 staff when it opens, would be 'financial suicide'.

There was also criticism that the campus would lack lecture halls, which would make it difficult to attract top speakers to the new facility.

But a university spokesman has hit back at the claims, claiming the design of the new facility will resemble the 'world of work'.

He said: "The method of teaching we are adopting – which has already been phased in on many courses - has an increased focus on seminars or tutorials rather than large impersonal lectures, to allow closer interaction between students and a member of staff.

"This can take the form of one-to-one or small group discussions, allowing for experimentation, exchange of ideas, teamwork and feedback. Working in this way is much closer to the world of work."

On whether the campus costs constitute financial suicide', the spokesman added that the scheme was being closely monitored by the Government.

"The Waterside Campus development finances and repayment timetable are subject to the highest scrutiny by Her Majesty’s Treasury, which has underwritten the bond that is paying for the bulk of the project costs," he said.

The BBC sources also feared the university was putting too much of a focus on online lessons and hot-desking.

But the university spokesman claimed this was a "complete misrepresentation of the university’s teaching model'.

"We are augmenting face-to-face teaching with some online activities that can take place outside of the student’s seminars and workshops with academics," he said.

While the project is set to cost £350 million, the vast majority of that is borrowed, with repayments set to last for 40 years.

The funds include a £46 million loan from Northampton Borough Council and a £14 million from Northamptonshire County Council.