Former Manchester United footballers have teamed up with organisations including Microsoft to launch a new model of a university in the heart of Manchester
The higher education institution, University Academy 92(UA92), will have a campus in the Manchester borough of Trafford, which is also home to Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium. The university will practise an innovative new approach to learning and offer courses in business, media and sport – with personal development at their core. One of the project’s principal aims is to challenge the idea that “high performance just comes from wealth”.
Ex-footballers, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt are partnering with Lancaster University, Trafford Council, and technology giant Microsoft to form a powerhouse team that will develop the concept and bring the game-changing institution to fruition. Local developer Bruntwood is additionally supporting the project alongside Trafford College.
The unique university will offer 16-19-year-olds a combination of academic, digital and life skills, inspired by the experience and connections of the Class of ‘92. The team behind UA92 will practise a ‘Target Talent Curriculum’, an innovative new approach to learning, which prepares tomorrow’s graduates for game-changing careers by focusing on the whole person.
A New Curriculum
The nature of a traditional academic degree will be augmented by coaching across 10 principles that prepare students for life. The UA92 philosophy is that success is down to more than talent. It is about becoming the best, breaking down boundaries, training hard, and never giving up.
At a launch event at Trafford Town Hall this week, Gary Neville said that by ensuring graduates had access to paid work placements with companies and organisations – including Microsoft partners – as well as an educational curriculum, they would leave UA92 with an academic qualification as well as critical life skills.
“I have always believed that success is down to more than just having talent and good luck. There should be no limits to what you can achieve with the right preparation,” he said.
“When we were at Manchester United, we received a football education and much more,” Neville continued. “When we finished football, we wanted to give people the same opportunities we had. We looked at the basic traits needed by young people heading for a world of work. People who succeed at the highest level have character. That’s the ethic of UA92.”
The project also aligns with Microsoft’s Digital Skills initiative with its commitment to ensuring that three million UK students are engaged in coding and computing by 2020, the training of 30,000 new digital apprentices by the same year, helping 30,000 public sector officials learn new digital skills, and re-training 500,000 cloud experts.
The planned campus will feature a Microsoft Technology Centre that will include an Executive Briefing Centre, Experience Centre and Virtual Reality Suite, as well as hot-desking space and areas for local start-ups to learn and network.
Phil Neville said: “Digital skills are massively important nowadays, and I wish I had been given this opportunity to develop my computer skills. I do presentations and my son and daughter, at 13 and 14, are driving my PowerPoint presentation, downloading the documents and putting them together.”
Derrick McCourt, General Manager of Microsoft UK’s Customer Success Unit, said: “UA92’s mission to nurture talent and ambition is closely aligned with Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more.”
UA92 has been hailed by the government, with the Department for Education (DfE) claiming it was a “ground-breaking new model of higher education”.
“If we are to meet the future skills needs of this country we cannot stand still,” a spokesman said. “The partnering of business giants, including Microsoft, with Lancaster University highlights how academia and business can collaborate to create a ground-breaking new model of higher education. New and independent providers have always played an important role in increasing choice and extending the benefits of higher education to more people and UA92 is true to that mission.”
The founders and partners will now launch a three-month consultation with stakeholders. The first students are expected to start at UA92 in late 2019.
Fantastic news for those looking to invest in Manchester
The campus will be located on the site of the Kellogg’s office in Old Trafford, just a couple of miles from Manchester United’s stadium. The project will ignite the already thriving regeneration of the area, with student accommodation also included in the plans – the city is currently home to 100,000 full-time and part-time students and this is set to rapidly increase.