MORE details of the plans for a university in Wiltshire have been released by the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Business leaders across the area ranked the idea to create a multi campus university as the top way to meet a higher levels skills shortage in Wiltshire.

Swindon and Wiltshire is the only SWLEP area in the country without its own university. The SWLEP has set a target to meet the need for more people to gain qualifications at a higher level by 2028 in Wiltshire to boost social mobility.

The three plans released included either launching a new campus for the university, working with an existing university or creating a federation where all companies currently offering higher education in Wiltshire worked together.

The university would be likely to be spread over several campuses under the name of the University of Wessex.

John Mortimer, chairman of the SWELP, said: “Businesses in Swindon and Wiltshire need appropriately skilled and competitive workforces to enable them to innovate and grow. Employers are facing higher level skills shortages and we currently have a limited higher education offer in Swindon and Wiltshire which is not meeting the need of local business and local residents and is not attracting talented learners from a wider geography.

“Improving university provision is an investment priority for the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership and we have set out our ambition to develop a multi-campus university.

“The role of universities in increasing productivity including through research development and innovation is recognised in the Government’s Industrial Strategy, and national research highlights the wider socio-economic benefits of having a university in an area.”

The SWLEP asked businesses to tell them which ‘big ideas’ were the most important for Swindon and Wiltshire to deliver and play its part in making the UK a global leader in the industries of the future.

A business-led multi-campus university with a focus on science, technology, engineering and maths was ranked the top ‘big idea’ by 72 per cent of leaders.

The SWLEP is now applying for funding for the project and is offering support for businesses to improve the skills of workers currently employed, to begin to address the skills shortage in the county.