Groundbreaking ceremony marks start of University Centre Rotherham build

8 September 2017

The leader of Rotherham Council is set to mark the start of construction work for the University Centre Rotherham (UCR).

Councillor Chris Read will join representatives of RNN Group, which is behind the £10.5m campus, and the contractors, at the town centre site on Thursday 14 September to dig the first soil.

The centre on Doncaster Gate, which will provide degrees and other higher level and professional qualifications, is due to open in autumn 2018, and is seen as one of the key ‘game changers’ in the Rotherham Plan 2025, a strategic plan to regenerate the town to make it a better place to live, work, invest in or visit.

In Rotherham and in Bassetlaw, only 23% of people have a higher education qualification, compared to the national average of 36%. The centre will offer degrees and degree apprenticeships, accredited by Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Hull.

Councillor Read said: “Having a university centre is a key part of the town’s regeneration and I am delighted that it is going ahead.

”We have a skills gap in Rotherham and that is one thing that is holding the town back. But some of our people are also being held back. If they can get better qualifications they will be able to get better jobs, progress in their careers, increase their income and that can only be good for the town.”

The 3,300m² campus will include teaching rooms, IT suites, exhibition space, open plan learning spaces, a café and social areas. The main contractor is Willmott Dixon.

RNN Group has been working closely with 200 of over 1,000 employers it works with to develop courses that particularly meet a need for the local economy. More than 50 different courses are expected to be running by 2020, including digital, creative, health, technical construction, engineering, and leadership and management. The target is to attract 1,000 additional students over the first five years, with, it’s hoped, many of those students also going on to create new businesses in the town.

Chief Executive of the RNN Group, John Connolly, said: “Providing local access to university education in Rotherham will make a real difference to individuals, businesses and the local economy.

“The University Centre will provide new opportunities for those who might not have considered university as an option in the past. The combination of lower fees and the chance to live at home whilst studying locally will bring Higher Education right into the heart of Rotherham, helping to create a skills and jobs revolution in the town.”

The centre will offer degrees, with tuition fees well below the £9,000 or more charged by many universities, and degree-level apprenticeships, where students can work and earn a wage while they learn.

Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is providing funding of £3.5m towards the centre, with the balance of the investment coming from within the RNN Group, which is the largest college group in South Yorkshire, encompassing Rotherham College, North Notts College, Dearne Valley College, RNN Training and a number of subsidiary organisations.

Nigel Brewster, Vice Chair of the Sheffield City Region LEP said: “This is an important and welcome development which will help both adult students and our regional businesses. We have backed the funding because we know there is a skills gap in the region and we want to help address it.

“This investment in infrastructure will help companies who will be able to recruit skilled workers and grow their businesses, creating more jobs.

“It is an exciting and visionary way forward which will benefit the whole region.”

Notes to editors

Photocall: Members of the press are invited to attend the official groundbreaking ceremony for the new University Centre Rotherham on Thursday 14 September at 11.45am when the leader of Rotherham Council will dig the first soil. The meeting point is at Doncaster Gate near the entrance to the NHS Health Village Building.

Parking - Press will be met and directed where to park. Please contact Charlotte Goldthorpe if you plan to attend. Please consider wearing suitable footwear (e.g. boots or heavy duty shoes) for the construction site.

For media enquiries please contact Charlotte Goldthorpe on 01226 766900 or at

Image shows John Connolly, chief executive of RNN Group, and a visual of the new UCR development.

About RNN Group:

RNN Group, based in Rotherham and Bassetlaw, is a leading education and training provider, meeting the needs of thousands of employers, adults and school leavers each year across Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

The RNN Group includes three colleges of further and higher education (Rotherham College, North Notts College and Dearne Valley College) and five training organisations, to educate school leavers, undergraduates, employees and those rejoining the workforce.

RNN Group works in partnership with employers to find the workforce needed for their future and delivers training, apprenticeships and recruitment solutions.

RNN Group is rapidly growing its higher education courses including full degrees and degree apprenticeships, offered locally in South Yorkshire and connected to employers.

Further information can be found at:

RNN Group UCR development story:
Rotherham College Student focused UCR information:
RNN Training Employer focused UCR information:

For enquiries please contact RNN’s marketing team on 01909 559 270 or by email at

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