A new Higher Education concept offering students paid placements in business while developing their personal and academic talents has been launched by a partnership from the worlds of business, football, education and local government including Lancaster University.
University Academy 92 is an idea first conceived by former Manchester United teammates Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville.
They approached Lancaster University and Trafford Council to help them develop the concept and the three organisations have now been joined in the partnership by Microsoft, Bruntwood and Trafford College.
The project also has the support of Manchester United Football Club and Lancashire County Cricket Club.
UA92 will make a strong contribution towards regeneration of the Old Trafford and Stretford areas, with the new campus and student accommodation featuring as key elements of a refreshed masterplan to transform and regenerate the area.
The partners have spent the past few months working on the concept and business plan to ensure it is a viable project before launching a consultation exercise.
Prof Mark E Smith, Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University, said: “We were very interested in the ideas presented by the Class of 92 because they matched closely with a number of things Lancaster already does very well, particularly innovation, widening participation and employability.
“We therefore felt we could make a strong contribution to a project which seeks to do things differently.
“This is a good time to test the appetite for a venture of this nature for two reasons. Firstly, the government wishes to open up the Higher Education marketplace to new and innovative ways of delivery. Secondly, businesses are becoming increasingly interested in how Higher Education can prepare students for working life.
“This project is designed to address both of those ideas head on.”
UA92 students will have paid work placements with a business or other organisation as an integral part of their studies.
Therefore, a key element of the project will be to form a number of partnerships with businesses. Initial discussions have proved positive and Microsoft is the founding business partner in the project.