Croydon secures first partner in vision to become global centre of learning
London South Bank University (LSBU) has become the first partner to support Croydon Council’s aspiration to become a global centre of learning. This is the next step in Croydon’s rapid progress, using housing, cultural, placemaking and retail development to transform the city into one of London’s most desirable places to live, work, learn and play. By integrating new opportunities for learning, Croydon will not only increase its growing appeal, but also its capacity to respond with greater resilience and creativity to the many challenges modern cities face.
LSBU, which has already positioned itself as a strong link between entrepreneurship and tertiary education, is an ideal partner to navigate these challenges. The University’s business incubation facility houses 90 businesses and is ranked among the top 15 university-run incubators in the world, while its employer-supported learning framework has made it a leading UK university for graduate employment, with nearly 89 per cent of graduates in professional graduate-level jobs or further study six months after graduation.
“LSBU is excited about the opportunity to work in partnership with Croydon Council to provide the high quality higher education the people and employers of the area deserve. We believe that a new Croydon university centre offer would make a vibrant and vital contribution to local learners and employers, and provide an exciting model for education in the UK,” Vice Chancellor of London South Bank University Professor Dave Phoenix.
Current challenges include changing work and retail patterns, and a skills crunch with the number of job vacancies in the UK at a record high. Croydon’s Creative Campus, as an urban model that integrates culture, learning, digital, leisure, retail, residential and commercial spaces able to flex as urban living styles and needs change, offers opportunity to grow new solutions.
“I’m very proud we are partnering with LSBU as the first step in developing Croydon’s Creative Campus. This is fantastic news for Croydon’s future – as our borough grows and regenerates, we want our centres to develop as a rich mix of business, learning, creativity and tech. Croydon’s regeneration is already delivering a wealth of opportunities for our residents, with new jobs, homes and facilities. This partnership is another, incredibly important step, as it will improve access to further education for residents of all ages, but especially our 93,000 young people, significantly boosting their skills and economic prospects,” says leader of Croydon Council Tony Newman.
Investing heavily in improving public spaces, pedestrian permeability, transportation and championing some of London’s most innovative new architecture, including the world’s tallest modular towers currently under construction, creates a culture of creativity and innovation. Croydon’s integrated digital learning network will also link schools, colleges, businesses, libraries and community centres, creating an opportunity for learning to follow people around the city, providing unique opportunities to investors eager to be at the cutting edge of the learning economy.
Embracing the learning economy is part of Croydon’s £5.25bn regeneration plan, which includes London’s first Creative Enterprise Zone and the Fairfield Halls, soon-to-be opened after a multi-million-pound refurbishment Fairfield Halls. Croydon’s creative assets are well illustrated by being the launchpad of UK Music – winning 23 Grammy and 13 Brit Awards. Creative sector jobs have also seen a 93% increase in the last five years.
All going to plan, by 2030, Croydon will become known as the place for lifelong learning globally, where learning touches all aspects of life. This aspiration is not only about tapping into the increasingly important knowledge economy, but ensuring Croydon remains a city able to sustainability deliver growth as needs change.
Councillor Newman said: “Croydon is a 21st century sustainable city and the creative campus vision enables us to not only adapt and develop over time, but to establish Croydon as London’s centre of knowledge, creativity and innovation by 2030. We hope this is the first in a number of new announcements as we seek partners from the UK and further afield in developing our creative campus.”
As Croydon develops spaces for ideas and investments to thrive, more new partners will take advantage of being co-located in one of the UK’s best-connected urban areas.