Two Government ministers were amongst a list of VIP visitors to Wiltshire College & University Centre’s Lackham campus to mark the completion of a project to create new state-of-the-art agriculture facilities at the site.
Michelle Donelan, MP for Chippenham and Minister of State for Universities, and Gillian Keegan, MP for Chichester and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, visited the campus following the completion of £9million worth of redevelopment work at Lackham, which is home to the College’s award-winning vocational teaching in land-based industries.
Representatives from the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP), the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) were also in attendance on a tour of the renovated campus.
Thanks to funding through an investment from the SWLEP, the new facilities include a cutting-edge AgriTech Centre and Robotic Dairy. The refurbished site will welcome students for the first time when the 2021-22 academic year begins in September before being officially launched at a special ceremony next Spring.
Michelle Donelan MP said: “It's absolutely incredible to see the transformation here at Lackham – it really is a Centre of Excellence of AgriTech. I am sure that many thousands of students are going to enjoy this for many years to come.”
Gillian Keegan MP said: “It has been fantastic to come to Wiltshire College & University Centre’s Lackham campus and see their new state-of-the-art AgriTech facilities. The cutting-edge equipment will prepare students for the future of agriculture, while also making the industry more efficient and more environmentally friendly.”
Hosted by College Principal and CEO Amanda Burnside, the tour started with an inspection of the ArgiTech Centre, which will now form the centrepiece of the Lackham campus. Sitting directly across from the Manor House, the facility blends heritage with modern industry requirements.
The building is home to state-of-the-art technology and science teaching facilities and features a media display wall with a live feed of data, statistics and visuals from the new Robotic Dairy at Home Farm.
This bespoke robotic milking parlour joins an existing 140-cow dairy unit at Home Farm and will become the classroom for the College’s new Higher National Diploma in Dairy Engineering.
The course has been developed in partnership with Wiltshire-based agriculture engineering experts T H WHITE and will utilise market-leading DeLaval robotics and software to transform students’ learning with cutting-edge industry equipment.
The new facilities at Lackham form part of a £24million redevelopment project across multiple sites at the College, which also includes renovation of the Salisbury campus.
Through investment from SWLEP, £15million worth of work to upgrade the Salisbury campus has recently been completed and will also welcome new students for the first time in September.
SWLEP CEO Paddy Bradley said: “It has been great to see that public money has been used to create facilities that are cutting edge so that students can be fully skilled to go out into the workplace straight after their courses.”