Should Halifax have its own university?

Steven Leigh, Head of Policy and Representation at the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

Steven Leigh, Head of Policy and Representation at the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

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Leaders of commerce and education in Halifax have backed a revived idea for the town to have its own university.

In a letter to the Courier last week, Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber Amjad Bashjir reminded readers of a past suggestion that Calderdale College could provide a campus for a neighbouring university town.

He wrote: “For some reason the idea, having seemingly developed a head of steam, petered out and disappeared from the local agenda.

“Surely now is the ideal time to revive the initiative and explore afresh the potential benefits that bringing higher education to this town could create.”

He noted the successful projects to revamp The Shay, Broad Street and Piece Hall.

“That makes this the very time to start looking at the next big challenge, the next major step forward,” he wrote.

The MEP in Strasbourg

The MEP in Strasbourg

His suggestion has met with a positive response from high-profile figures from our area.

Steven Leigh, the head of policy for the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Why wouldn’t we want to have a university? Our young people need to have a university education and need to have the option in Halifax.

“Any town or city with a university definitely has on added buzz about it. There’s a general feeling that it’s vibrant and going places. So I would very much like to see it if it was possible.

“We need all the best brains and best young people vying for quality jobs and enterprise.We’ve got to get the town on the map – I think this would be a great move towards it.”

Sam Mason, chief executive of the Piece Hall Trust, said Halifax could make a “powerful destination” for students of economics, textiles, design, culture and heritage courses.

“Halifax would benefit in so many ways from having its own university. A healthy percentage of graduates stay in the towns where they studied and go on to set up new businesses which are the lifeblood of the economy.

“The opportunity for ambitious graduates in Halifax is huge.

“Our heritage sector, including the Piece Hall and Dean Clough, would be a fantastic resource for some academic courses and the benefit of having a university in the town would be mutual.”

James Franklin-Smith, principal of Trinity Academy, Holmfield, Halifax, said: “We would certainly be interested in helping to explore how the life and career prospects of Halifax’s young people could be further improved through increased opportunity to access higher education.

“However, the quality of any new provision would be absolutely key.”