UCL News


Provost's View: UCL East - a new model for the university of the future

4 December 2014

UCL has once again been at the heart of the news agenda over the past few days, with the announcement that the government will commit £141 million to a new cultural and education quarter.

Olympic Park UCL is a founding partner in this venture and we will establish a second campus, UCL East, on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The development represents one of the most important moments in UCL's history and will, for the first time since the development of the Bloomsbury campus, allow us to consider how best to plan a university fit for future generations of our community.

Once fully developed this new campus will significantly increase UCL's footprint in London; the new site on Marshgate Wharf will eventually cover 11 acres and provide us with an additional 125,000m2 of space. It is an investment that we hope will pay off for generations - even centuries, to come.

The project, originally known as Olympicopolis, is a collaboration with the V&A, Sadler's Wells, University of the Arts London, the London Legacy Development Corporation and the Mayor of London. It is a superb illustration of the collaborative spirit within the capital and the opportunities that UCL has for partnerships in London. This is precisely the reason why our city is so critical for our strategy, UCL 2034 - and why I have appointed a Vice-Provost for London to spearhead those opportunities.

The hard work starts here

The announcement this week is the culmination of more than a year of intensive work from colleagues across UCL and beyond - some of which has been described in previous Vice-Provost's Views.

The work has to date been overseen by the Olympic Park Steering Group (OPSG) - led by Stephen Caddick - but now that we are embarking upon detailed planning and delivery we have slightly modified our structures. The UCL East executive group will be led by Vice-Provost Rex Knight, and that will assume overall responsibility for delivery of the campus, reporting through me to Council.

The academic planning will be led by the academic programme board - led by Stephen Caddick, Vice Provost (Enterprise & London) - who will, I know, soon be issuing a call for proposals for projects to be located on UCL East in the near future. I am grateful to all colleagues who have been involved to date and their continued enthusiastic commitment to the project.

Our vision

Our vision for the site is one that will seek to will remove boundaries between research, education, enterprise and public engagement. It will be a campus of aspiration, ambition and access - not just for UCL but for the citizens of east London.

In order to help ensure that the planning of the campus considers from the very outset these high level principles, the OPSG has commissioned a Campus Concept Group led by Professor Alan Penn, Dean of the UCL Bartlett. That group will turn this vision into our requirements for a new type of campus for UCL in the heart of East London, and which, we hope, will embody these principles.

Concurrently to that process, we have also launched a search for a masterplanner for the site, who will deliver more detailed plans to bring this vision to fruition in a built form. This process is currently ongoing and shortlisting will take place early next year.

Looking further ahead, next year, we will continue to increase our initiatives to build stronger links with the community around UCL East before activity begins on site in autumn 2018.

A legacy for years to come

The next decade will be an exciting time for UCL - a chance to mould the shape of our institution for generations of students and staff for the better and contribute to ensuring London remains a pre-eminent centre for research, a capital of culture and an economic powerhouse.

From its foundation, UCL has led the higher education sector in conducting research that is world-changing and education that is life-changing. But universities are changing, and the boundaries between research, education, enterprise, innovation and public engagement that have emerged need to be dismantled.

UCL East will do that and, as is befitting for a university with our ambition, we expect to develop a new model for a university campus - one that we hope will inspire UCL, our partners, our neighbours and other universities across the globe.

Professor Michael Arthur

UCL President & Provost

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