Today, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) opens the doors to its state-of-the-art Student Centre and University Square, showcasing the University’s commitment to student wellbeing and representing a transformative step in the wider regeneration of the City of Preston.
Every aspect of the 7,304sqm Student Centre building has been considered and constructed with sustainability, accessibility and student wellbeing in mind, offering a place to study, socialise and access second-to-none support all under one roof – and even above it! Alongside indoor communal areas, study spaces and an expansive rooftop garden, the new facility is home to the full breadth of UCLan’s renowned student support services, from mental health provision and careers advice to course information and accommodation assistance.
Linked to the new Student Centre, and as part of its post Covid-19 focus on student resilience, confidence and wellbeing, UCLan has introduced a new ‘Transition to Higher Education’ programme to support students pre-arrival and through their first semester. The initiative is offering study skills training and wellbeing resources to help with the transition between school and university life.
“After years in the making, we are so proud to finally launch the Student Centre and University Square today, and open its doors to our students, both new and existing. “— UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin
The Student Centre’s roof garden will be home to 150,000 honeybees, which have been relocated from UCLan’s Westleigh House in Cottam where they have been grown and nurtured for the last three years. The bees will play an important role in pollinating the many thousands of new plants, shrubs and trees which have been planted across campus during the course of the University’s Campus Masterplan project.
Featuring Wi-Fi and plenty of seating, the 5,000 sqm University Square will become a new focal point in UCLan’s Preston Campus. Offering a go-to location to host large-scale events, such as graduation ceremonies and festivals, the new facility will bring the City and University closer together than ever before.
Motion sensitive ‘light threads’ have been embedded into the Square which at night create a stunning illuminated pathway, guiding visitors into the Student Centre and central campus beyond. Designed by lighting consultants Jason Bruges Studio, the eye-catching feature symbolises cotton strands and is a proud reference to the city’s cotton heritage.
UCLan’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin said:“After years in the making, we are so proud to finally launch the Student Centre and University Square today, and open its doors to our students, both new and existing.
“We are committed to unlocking the potential of our students, in every aspect of their lives, and this step forward reflects that. After such a difficult year, it is a triumphant and historic moment to see students return from the summer holidays, and our first years arrive to start their journey right here.”
David Taylor, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the University Board, added: “Beyond being a student wellbeing hub, the Student Centre and surrounding area are going to play a huge role in strengthening our ties with Preston and supporting its continuing evolution both economically and socially.
“The Student Centre is a magnificent piece of architecture, which has been a collaborative process from start to finish and will act as a gateway to the University and the City, something that we can all enjoy and be proud of.”
The new development is the culmination of UCLan’s £200m Masterplan project, launched in 2015, which set out a vision to create a unified, sustainable and welcoming campus which will enhance the experience for all those visiting the University and benefitting the local area.