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Penrith march to save Newton Rigg campus

24 March 2010

Staff and students at the University of Cumbria will join forces tomorrow in a march from the Cornmarket in Penrith to Newton Rigg as part of their campaign to save the historic campus.

The protestors will deliver a petition to the university's senior management calling for them to start working with students and staff to defend the campus.
The demonstration, which has been organised by UCU, will start with a rally in the Cornmarket at 12.30. Protestors will hear support from local prospective parliamentary candidates from across the political spectrum as well as UCU national president, Alastair Hunter, and representatives from the TUC. The procession will move off at around 1pm towards Newton Rigg.
The University of Cumbria was assembled from St Martin's College, Cumbria Institute of the Arts and substantial portions of the University of Central Lancashire in 2007. Its aim was to be not just a university in Cumbria, or of Cumbria, but for Cumbria. Today the reality is very different. The historic Charlotte Mason campus at Ambleside is being mothballed and, after three years of establishing itself as a centre of excellence for agriculture, forestry and outdoor studies, Newton Rigg now faces the axe.
In December vice-chancellor, Peter McCaffrey, broke the news of 200 jobs going at the Ambleside campus to students before informing staff. Many staff have already left and over a hundred more are about to follow them. Those that do remain are struggling to take on the workloads left by their colleagues and increasingly feel as if they are being squeezed into a shape they do not and cannot fit.
The union says that at a time when strong and coherent leadership is required, there is diminishing confidence in those charged with taking Cumbria forward. UCU says staff feel excluded from the important decisions being taken about the institution's future. The union says it has not given up on the students or the idea of the University for Cumbria. However, the protestors will warn at the rally that management has to deliver the vision and mission promised in 2007.
UCU regional official, Iain Owens, said: 'Staff and students at Newton Rigg have not given up on the University of Cumbria yet. We believe the pioneering institution still has much to offer the region and will fight to save it. It was an ambitious project but, after three years of working hard to establish itself, the University of Cumbria is starting to find its feet. To chuck in the towel now would be an insult to the staff and students and a devastating blow to the local economy.'
Last updated: 11 December 2015