Construction of the University of Buckingham’s new Vinson Centre for Liberal Economics and Entrepreneurship was celebrated at a ground-breaking ceremony on Tuesday.
The building will provide a focal point for campus for the first time. It will house a coffee bar and bookshop open to local people and a lecture theatre hosting events for the community as well as students.
Lord Vinson, entrepreneur and co-founder of the Centre for Policy Studies, made a gift of £5.5 million jointly to the University and the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) to help to widen understanding of the Constitution of Liberty – the belief that limiting the power of government is an essential element of a free society. Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership (BTLEP) awarded a grant of £3m for the project.
At the centre students will learn about free market economics. There will be research projects with the IEA as well as conferences held there. Buckingham was founded on the principles of free thinking and the new building will provide a dedicated centre for research and study reflecting the continuing ethos of liberal thinking at the University.
The gift marks the latest in an association between the IEA and University of Buckingham which stretches back to the University’s beginnings. The IEA was one of the key forces behind the foundation of the University. Sir Anthony Seldon’s father, Arthur Seldon, was Editorial Director when it helped to set up the University. At the time Lord Vinson was a trustee of the IEA and he went on to be chairman.
Sir Anthony Seldon said: “We are enormously grateful to Lord Vinson and to the Government and the LEP for their extremely generous contributions. It shows that we are regarded as an integral part of the local economy.
“The Vinson Centre for Liberal Economics and Entrepreneurship will provide excellent research and teaching opportunities as well as being a hub for the University and for the community. It is the most exciting new building in our 40-odd year history.”
Lord Vinson said: “Buckingham is unique because the two year degree course encourages and rewards hard work and a “can do” attitude. This motivation is what leads to a free enterprising and more prosperous world, bringing relief from poverty, which is what I want to encourage through my gift.”
Richard Harrington, Chief Executive, Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Today’s ground breaking ceremony marks an important stage in the development of the University of Buckingham in becoming one of the world’s best innovative, independent small universities.
“We are therefore delighted to be funding this key project to create an exciting centre where business and education can interact and build on the University’s internationally recognised reputation in pioneering the techniques of entrepreneurship learning.”
The ground-breaking ceremony was sponsored by Beard Construction and included lunch for invited guests at the University. Beard is also currently working on a £5.5 million Academic Centre at Milton Keynes University Hospital for the University of Buckingham. “We are delighted to be marking this milestone in the construction of the University’s new Vinson Centre,” said Andy Shephard, Beard contracts manager. “We are proud to be working on this important building and pleased to be continuing our relationship with the University of Buckingham.”