With a week to go until the big announcement about a new university in Hereford, I’ve been digging around in the local press and elsewhere on the internet. I’ve had to, because the published email@example.com address is bouncing all my attempts to sign up to the mailing list!
I am yet to find conclusive evidence that co-operative governance is being considered, explicitly. However, I have found evidence of further co-operative links, in the form of a theory that the Robert Owen Vocational School might be sharing a possible site with NMITE. The trail to this other organization ran cold* (Its website is giving me the 404 this evening) but from what I could glean it is a Free School, which has faced considerable local opposition. The school’s parent organization (the Robert Owen Group) does claim to be a co-operative: http://www.robertowen.org/about-us.html so there is some sort of (tenuous) co-operative connexion through the putative campus location.
The internet archive has some captures of the previous holding page for the university: http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.thenewuniversity-herefordshire.org.uk/* though these do not extend beyond the homepage. However, an archived discussion on the Herefordshire Voice forum did reveal some interesting information (http://www.herefordvoice.co.uk/topic/1170-the-new-university-herefordshire/) including that the project:
‘is being conceived as a not-for-profit institution, with mixed funding, and operating with input from The John Lewis Partnership model. The assets and endowments of the university will be held in trust by The Herefordshire Tertiary Education Trust.’
It also offers a link to a 2009 Herefordshire Council debate in Cabinet which gives background to these aspirations and also to the likely site in the city centre: http://councillors.herefordshire.gov.uk/ieIssueDetails.aspx?IId=17475&PlanId=0&Opt=3#AI16820 which does seem to be the same as the Robert Owen Free School.
The Herefordshire Tertiary Education Trust (http://www.hte-t.org/) appears to be the legal vehicle used to get the project to its current stage, which is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee (as indeed are many co-operatives). (Due to the somewhat antiquated web technology Companies House uses, you have to go there and search for company no. 08799922 yourself.)
And finally, according to the High Sheriff of Herefordshire, it is a Good Thing.
So tantalizing, inconclusive, but as yet, no cigar.
Roll-on 1pm Friday 6th March 2015, when all will be revealed…
* Update 15 mins after posting “D’Oh! – If The Rober Owen Vocational School is in fact a school it will have a UKPRN. It does. 10042334. Edubase says this about it: http://www.education.gov.uk/edubase/establishment/summary.xhtml?urn=139895 It has 30 pupils and is indeed based on the Blackfriars site mentioned above.
PS The BBC did a news item about the New University last year: http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hereford-worcester-26987031