UCLan expands into Wales with youth hostel purchase

Preston's university is extending its cross-country links, by moving west over the border into Wales.

The University of Central Lancashire is planning to buy a youth hostel in Llangollen, to enhance educational facilities for its students, particularly those studying in outdoor-related areas.

UCLan is planning to spend 1m upgrading and renovating Tyn Dwr Hall, a Grade II listed building in North Wales.

The university is losing its outdoor education facilities in Penrith as part of a transfer deal for the creation of the new University of Cumbria.

The move into Wales will enhance its drive to become one of the largest universities in will give students added opportunity to put their academic learning into practice. Tyn Dwr Hall has been run by the Youth Hostel Association since the Second World War, and is being sold to UCLan as part of a strategic overhaul of the YHA network.

The move will put UCLan at the heart of the UK's leading outdoor pursuits arena, with three national outdoor centres in the region; the National Whitewater Centre at Bala, Plas Menai on the Menai Straits and Plas y Brenin at Capel Curig.

A UCLan spokesman said that as North Wales accounted for around 40% of outdoor pursuit activity in the UK, by having such a presence in the area and working more closely with the outdoor industry, UCLan will be able to better equip its students with the skills needed for a successful career in outdoor related areas.

Dr John Minten, head of the department of tourism and leisure management at UCLan, regards the new premises as a major step forward in improving the university's facilities.

He said: "At the moment we operate broadly similar opportunities in Penrith, Cumbria, but Llangollen in Wales provides an excellent location for the type of education and training we aim to provide our students. The university is now consolidating its position as one of the UK's largest universities and adding a further dimension to an all-round learning experience for our students."

He said students from across the university will stay in Llangollen as part of the Frontier Education retention project, and those studying outdoor-related programmes at the Preston campus will spend long periods living, studying and working at the centre.

UCLan is planning to spend 1m upgrading the building and facilities and hopes to have it fully operational by September 2008.

The university will also be using the facility for team building exercises and future plans include offering the centre on a commercial basis for conferences and training events.