A photograph of the proposed site where MK:U will be developed Image: Cranfield University

MK:U is being developed by Cranfield University

Santander has announced it is backing MK:U, the UK’s first university focused on digital skills. It is providing £30 million of funding to help establish the university in Milton Keynes. 

MK:U is being developed by Cranfield University, which is based outside the new town.

Professor Sir Peter Gregson, chief executive and vice-chancellor of Cranfield University, said:

“Santander’s support is a major sign of confidence in MK:U by a huge international and local employer.

“It shows that world-class businesses like Santander are crying out for career-ready, highly-skilled graduates for the digital age, providing jobs and growth in the next century.”

Santander’s contribution is one of the biggest corporate donations to British higher education in recent years. Alongside £10 million in capital financing, Santander will contribute £20million in running costs for the first three years of MK:U’s life.

The capital costs will help finance buildings in central Milton Keynes, which will serve as the heart of the new university.

Santander UK ceo, Nathan Bostock, said:

“We are delighted to be playing such a major role in the creation of MK:U. Santander is deeply proud of our connection to Milton Keynes, with our commitment shown by our recent investment of £150 million in a world-class new headquarters here.”

The new university aims to work in partnership with business to develop the talent and skills needed by nearby businesses.

MK:U will have a strong focus on digital technologies. It will offer two-year degrees, higher apprenticeship-level qualifications, and work placements designed alongside employers.

It will also provide a new cultural and civic heart for Milton Keynes. The town has seen an annual population growth this century of over 17%, and is forecast to be home to over 300,000 citizens by the middle of the next decade.

MK:U is expected to serve at least 5,000 students and be open by 2023.