MK: U A new University for Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes Council is seeking a Higher Education partner to lead the establishment of MK:U, a new technology university for Milton Keynes.  

 The role of the new university will be fundamental to achieving the new long-term vision of Milton Keynes set out by the MK Futures 2050 Commission in their report “Making a Great City Greater”.  This envisages the city growing to at least 400,000 people by 2050 at the heart of the knowledge-intensive innovation corridor between Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford.

 A new university offers the chance to establish a ground-breaking new facility, that can be a truly 21st century institution helping students to develop skills and knowledge that address the needs of local, national and international business.  

 We are now inviting Higher Education institutions who would like to be considered as a partner in driving forward this project, to submit a bid as part of an Invitation to Tender process.  Read further for more information on the background to the MK:U proposition and how the concept has developed so far, or go to ProContract to read the Tender Documentation.

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Higher Education in Milton Keynes

 MK:U is central to delivering the vision of Milton Keynes in 2050…

“Known as an international centre of learning and innovation with outstanding green spaces and a cutting-edge cultural scene, Milton Keynes is where ‘they just get it right’ and is the location of choice for growing families, young entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers alike.”

 A number of universities already operate in the city and nearby: The Open University, Cranfield University, The University of Buckingham and The University of Bedfordshire. Milton Keynes College also provides foundation degree level teaching. These all make valued and high quality contributions to the growth and vibrancy of Milton Keynes but the city continues to lack a standalone university of its own that operates at the scale and provides the specialist courses necessary to meet its long-term needs. Milton Keynes is one of the largest cities in the UK not to have its own dedicated university and this has an adverse impact on local economic growth and the attractiveness of the city as a destination.

The opportunities that would be created by a major city centre undergraduate university were recognised by the MK Futures 2050 Commission in “Making a Great City Greater”, which showed how MK:U could also be a catalyst for a series of related “Big Projects” including recreating the city centre as a stronger economic, residential, leisure and retail destination.   


Milton Keynes – hub of the Cambridge-MK-Oxford corridor

 Founded as recently as 1967, Milton Keynes resides in the heart of the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Growth Corridor.  Half an hour north of London by train and a short journey south of Birmingham the city hosts an enviable mix of well-known UK, European and international businesses.  The city and region boast the fastest economic growth rates in the UK and this has also generated a wide variety of busy small- to medium-sized enterprises now based in and around Milton Keynes. As a young and rapidly growing city, Milton Keynes has established itself as a recognised and globally important technologically “Smart Citywith internationally significant programmes in areas such as driverless cars, big data and internet of things.  


The opportunity of MK:U

 A vision of what the new university could be like is described in the MK:U Business and Development Plan.  In preparing this Business Plan, a wide range of local stakeholders including businesses, schools and the college, local universities, students and residents were engaged. The MK:U proposition has been developed in response to those views and the long-term growth context provided by the MK Futures 2050 Commission.

The headline vision for MK:U is of a new knowledge-centre or precinct at the heart of the city with the new University at its core.  A site has been identified in the city centre, ideally located between Milton Keynes Central railway station, the thriving employment area and the retail and leisure core. Its future as a location for the university is supported in the emerging local plan, Plan:MK, with an allocation for education use.  The Council is working with Milton Keynes Development Partnership as the landowner, who supports the use of the land known as Block B4 for the university project.  

The University would be a destination open 24/7, with local residents and employees just as welcome as those studying there.  The “porosity” of the university will be fundamental and has been described as a living laboratory in which the city will just be as much a part of the university as the university is part of the city. The Council is committed to creating a truly civic university and wants to find a partner who can help make that vision a reality.

 MK:U will be a centre for school leavers to gain their essential first degree, but it will also work closely with modern businesses and industry to create career paths and development opportunities. Part-time study while in employment will be an increasingly popular option. The environment would be one not only just of gaining the desired qualification but also one of life-long learning and of development based on aptitude and choice.

 The emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) for the MK:U curriculum has been recommended as a way of responding to the knowledge-intensive, high-technology businesses of today and the future, and the need for highly skilled workers to meet their needs.  The offer of MK:U will be different to other universities, with a focus on opportunities for students to gain valuable experience through relevant business placements, so graduates leave with a CV alongside a highly-regarded degree.


Being part of the project

Milton Keynes Council is now inviting national and international Higher Education institutions to propose how they could join us in delivering this exciting vision of a new university for Milton Keynes.

 Full details including the Tender Pack are available by registering through the ProContract procurement system.  Bids should be received no later than 12pm on Wednesday 10 January 2018.  Bidders should be prepared to attend an interview on Monday 12 or Tuesday 13 February 2018, where they will have an opportunity to explain how their submission meet the selection criteria set out in the Tender Pack.  

 If your institution shares the enthusiasm for this once-in-a-generation opportunity to lead the creation of an innovative new university, we look forward to hearing from you.


Links to useful MK Futures downloads and other websites

 Commission Working Paper on Options and Opportunities for University Education in Milton Keynes

 MK Futures 2050 Commission Report ‘Making a Great City Greater’

 MK:U Business and Development Plan

 MK:U video

 Centre of Cities information on the economic performance of Milton Keynes

 Invest Milton Keynes  

 Destination Milton Keynes and MK50

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