The new £50 million Faculty of Business and Law at UWE Bristol (the University of the West of England) is a step closer to completion.
The new state-of-the-art building will house Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School and is part of the University’s campus development plan to build a University for the 21st Century.
A ceremony is being held on 4 May  to mark construction reaching the top floor of the landmark building.
Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors and an Honorary Graduand from UWE Bristol will mark the occasion by securing a golden bolt on the top floor of the building on Wednesday 4 May.
The new building is located on the northern side of the plaza at the heart of developments on the UWE Bristol Frenchay Campus and is due for completion by January 2017.
The new building will ensure that staff, students and businesses have access to world class facilities and it will enable achievement of the core of the Faculty strategy: engagement with the business sector in the region.
Research by the Association of Business Schools and the Chartered Management Institute, shows that UK business schools and businesses, who are key employers of graduates, could benefit from closer working relationships. Businesses say they want ‘business-ready’ graduates, and key to achieving this are student placements and work experience which are a core part of the vision for the Faculty.
The numbers of UWE Bristol business graduates entering professional jobs within 6 months of graduation has been consistently ahead of the marketplace for business graduates. The latest data based on the 2013/14 Destination of Leavers in Higher Education (DLHE) produced by the Higher Education Statistics Agency showed 74% of UWE Bristol graduates entering professional jobs immediately after graduation compared to a national figure of 67%, confirming the capability of these graduates and the underlining demand in the region.
Working closely with a modern practice-based university like UWE Bristol brings huge benefits for business and this new facility will foster formal and informal interaction between businesses and the University.
Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors says,“UWE Bristol is a great university with impressive international reach. It should be commended for investing in the workforce of the future. Access to skills is a major concern for IoD members, as shortages in key areas can prevent businesses from growing. Management, professional, commercial and entrepreneurial skills are vital to this region. UWE’s effort will create strong career opportunities for students and employees alike.”
Key professional organisations will have a base in the new building enabling barristers, accountants, small business owners and start-ups to mix with staff and students in the learning and social areas. Throughout the building there will be flexible workspaces available for staff, students and visitors to use.
Donna Whitehead Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law says, “This will be a live environment where staff and students and business work together – with collaboration and collegiality at its core. We consult with our advisory board of key business figures who challenge us to make our provision meet the needs of employers and the latest developments in the business world.
“Our students are very enterprising – for example we have very successful Pro Bono work carried out by Law students offering free legal advice to victims of domestic violence and benefit claimants – resulting in successfully gaining £1m in welfare benefits for people wrongly declared fit for work. We plan to develop this model of Pro Bono work for a business audience – enabling our students, with supervision, to offer advice to small businesses on areas such as start-ups, intellectual property, HR issues, marketing and communications. These activities help us to be engaged with the region, and they benefit students by giving them live experience interacting with business owners and developers.
“This new building will enable us to deliver our strategy by providing a first-class teaching and learning environment comprising lecture facilities, teaching and seminar rooms, as well as specialist learning facilities such as a trading room, team entrepreneurship hubs and law courts. It will have spaces that encourage interaction and learning areas enhanced by the latest technology, as well as zones for all subject areas.”
Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School educate future professionals in all aspects of business and law – from entrepreneurship, management, leadership, strategy through to economists, accountants, marketing and human resources. As well as offering academic law courses they also train barristers and solicitors. They provide alongside this, relevant research into important business and law issues that confront both businesses and society.
Innovative new courses, such as the successful Business Team Entrepreneurship degree, enable students to respond to the challenges of creating their own businesses during their time at university.
The new building will include: two showcase law courts, a city trading room, a 300 seat lecture theatre, two Harvard lecture theatres, a number of smaller teaching spaces, IT suites, flexible social learning spaces, external business engagement space, central social space and café.
ISG is the main contractor for the project.
The University is currently seeking further funding from the business and alumni community to develop Technology Enhanced Learning classrooms to deliver the very best in student learning experience and teaching. At the same time this will give these businesses access to talented students and graduates, research and development.