Education and business leaders have hailed the opportunities on offer to students when Lynn’s new university centre opens this autumn.
A topping out ceremony took place at the site of the £6.5 million complex on the College of West Anglia’s Tennyson Avenue campus this afternoon.
And college principal David Pomfret said the building would help to plug a big gap in higher education provision when it opens to students this autumn.
He said: “This project is massively important to the area and it’s fantastic that it is now coming to light.
“We’ve long known that learning pays, not just in terms of the individual but the economy in terms of growth prospects.”
When completed, the centre will contain 14 digital classrooms, a 120 seat lecture theatre, offices and social space exclusively for the use of degree students.
Around 300 extra students a year will use the building to study programmes in areas including business, management, scientific, technical and engineering skills.
Mr Pomfret said the college is currently working with its higher education partner, Anglia Ruskin University, on a number of new course programmes, including a bio-science degree which will be launched when the centre opens.
And he believes the provision of university education close to home will be a big draw for local students.
He said: “It’s important to give local people an opportunity to keep their costs as low as possible by staying close but going far in terms of the potential that our programmes can offer.
“This project will make a massive statement to the local area.”
The funding for the project was secured through the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership’s growth deal with the government.
Its chairman, Mark Pendlington, said the centre, together with the recent opening of the new King’s Lynn Innovation Centre on Nar Ouse Way and the inclusion of the town in a new regional enterprise zone, shows that the area is still moving forward, despite current economic worries.
He said: “King’s Lynn is fast becoming the go-to destination that will attract and retain the best talent, encourage more business growth and inspire start-ups and budding entrepreneurs.
“We’re going through some pretty uncertain times at the moment, but the east is powering on in terms of its ambition and growing its economy, making it one of the best places in the country to live work and learn.
“This is a fantastic partnership that is really going to go places and make all the difference in the world to many, many young people in this great town.”
Students and staff were among those who had a sneak preview of the new building as part of the ceremony.
And one of them says the new building has already helped her to pursue her chosen career path locally, instead of further afield.
Georgina Whitford will be starting a degree course in early childhood professional studies in September when the new centre opens.
She said it was exciting to see the new building taking shape.
She said: “It’s brilliant. It’s allowed me to work in a nursery rather than volunteering in Norwich.”
Fellow degree student Samanthan Broughton said she was looking forward to working in a building specifically allocated to higher education students.
And Amy English added: “It’s nice to be somewhere modern, in a modern building that’s right up to date with technology.”
More than 60 staff have been working on the construction project since it began last November.
The work is expected to be completed in mid-August ahead of the start of the new academic year in September.