It may only just have opened for business, but Lynn’s new £6.5 million University Centre is already proving a big hit with its largest user group, the students themselves.
As the ribbon was cut during yesterday’s official opening of the University Centre West Anglia, plenty of them were already hard at work pursuing their degree programmes.
But those who joined the celebrations were keen to praise the new facility and well aware of the opportunities that are now more readily available both to them and their successors.
David Chase, from Lynn, is in the final year of his computer science degree programme and said: “It’s really marvellous having a building just for higher education.
“My brother is doing a course here next year. Not having to travel to Norwich or Cambridge is a real bonus.”
But it’s not just students recently out of school and college who are set to benefit.
Vicky Welbourne juggles her Early Childhood Studies course with being a mother and working in a pre-school.
And she feels the centre can help to break down the life barriers that can stop people like her from pursuing higher education.
She said: “My options were quite limited. I’ve studied with the College of West Anglia before and got on really well, so wanted to come back.
“To be able to study to this level so close to home is brilliant for people in my situation.”
Many have moved their studies into the centre from other parts of the College of West Anglia campus.
Corinna Parker, who is starting the second year of her Early Childhood Studies course, felt the break did make a difference.
She said: “It feels more like a university now, rather than part of the college.”
Jade Spalding pointed out that the separate facilities would also help to reduce the burden on other parts of the campus, where they had not always been able to secure computer rooms for classes.
And Philip Thompson added: “It’s much better. It makes us feel special.”
The centre will drive a major expansion of higher education provision in Lynn, which officials hope will bring 300 extra students to the site to study degree courses over the next three years.
The college will also develop a number of new degree programmes over the coming years through its continuing partnership with Anglia Ruskin University.
Principal David Pomfret said: “We know that learning pays. That’s why we’ve created this centre.
“It’s a stunning building in my view and I’m sure it will inspire not only our current HE students to be the best that they can be, but inspire a future generation of students to stretch themselves to deliver to the very best of their capabilities.”