Professor Ross Renton has been appointed principal of ARU Peterborough, a new higher education provider for the north Cambridgeshire city.
Professor Renton is currently senior pro-vice-chancellor at the University of Worcester and is responsible for student experience, widening participation and employability.
The £30-million university will open in 2022 and is projected to enrol 2,000 students.
ARU Peterborough is the result of a partnership between the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA), Peterborough City Council and Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), which will be responsible for the curriculum and student recruitment. ARU has campuses in Cambridge and Chelmsford.
Peterborough presently has no university of its own, although, ARU has, since 2008, offered higher education qualifications through University Centre Peterborough in partnership with Peterborough Regional College. The city is described as an HE “coldspot”, with the nearest universities located over 40 miles away in Cambridge and Leicester.
Peterborough is a higher education cold spot, so by attracting a diverse student population from non-traditional backgrounds – many of whom may not have considered a university education before – we can redress the balance between Peterborough and the rest of the East of England
– Prof Roderick Watkins, Anglia Ruskin University
As principal, Prof Renton will help Peterborough ARU shape its HE provision, in close partnership with the local community, businesses and employers. In a virtual meeting last summer, ARU vice-chancellor Roderick Watkins said courses would cover business and innovation; creative, digital arts and sciences; agriculture and environment; and health and education. Teaching would comprise face-to-face learning and work-based training, Mr Watkins said, and there will be a high number of degree apprenticeships.
The centre will focus on widening participation and employability; two areas Prof Renton has considerable experience, having been a designated Widening Participation Expert for the Office for Students, vice-chair of the Forum for Access and Continuing Education (FACE), and a panel member of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) Subject Pilot.
Professor Ross Renton said: “I am honoured to be appointed the inaugural principal of ARU Peterborough. I am looking forward to working with our many innovative partners to take forward this pioneering approach to building a vibrant, creative and inclusive university for Peterborough and the wider region.
“We will deliver a dynamic course portfolio with a focus on meeting the needs of the region and emerging areas of employment. ARU Peterborough will be an ambitious institution, supporting economic growth, building partnerships and providing outstanding education to all who have the ability. ARU Peterborough graduates will be known for their transformative impact on society.”
Said Prof Watkins: “The appointment of Prof Ross Renton as Principal marks another significant milestone towards opening ARU Peterborough in September 2022. There were a number of truly excellent candidates for the role, but Professor Renton’s passion for improving accessibility to higher education really shone through.
“Peterborough is a higher education cold spot, so by attracting a diverse student population from non-traditional backgrounds – many of whom may not have considered a university education before – we can redress the balance between Peterborough and the rest of the East of England. Professor Renton’s extensive expertise in widening participation will help to make this target a reality.”