SWINDON College is about to unveil a £40m plan to rebuild large parts of its North Star site.

And the college says that the redevelopment would be the ideal place for the University of Bath to get a foothold in Swindon.

Last week the university announced it was pulling out of the development at Coate. It had had its sights set on the area for several years, and had said "it is Coate or nothing" for its proposed undergraduate campus in Swindon.

It said that there were impossible differences with the site developers, and claimed that changes in Government funding rules meant it was less likely to secure funding.

But now Swindon College principal Jonquil Brooks wants to encourage the university into the town centre.

She said that she had been in touch with the university's vice-chancellor,Glynis Breakwell, and is optimistic that an agreement could be made to share the 17.5-acre North Star site between the college and the university .

She will be taking the idea to the college's governing body next week for a discussion.

Swindon College already has up to 400 undergraduates on its books.

"We already accommodate foundation degrees and masters degrees in art and design," said Mrs Brooks.

"And we're bringing in more foundation degrees all the time, such as in youth work.

"The university wants to work closely with the colleges in Swindon and I don't believe there's a threat to the Oakfield campus.

"All the signals from the university have been positive about the way in which it is aligning itself with the Government's view."

Last year the college saw its new building officially opened by the Duchess of Cornwall, after it left the Regent Circus site last summer for good.

As well as the new block, however, there are several older buildings which are beginning to suffer from concrete cancer and need replacing.

It is for this reason that the college is about to lodge its capital bid for £40m to the Learning And Skills Council, the body that regulates further education funding.

The plans are at an early stage and as well as going through the college's governing body would need to pass through Bath University, Swindon Council, and many other bodies.

But Mrs Brooks is optimistic that North Star could prove a successful site.

"We would welcome input from the university," she said. "We have a desire to work with the university, and our aim is to provide tip-top facilities we think local people deserve.

"It could be an amazing opportunity. We would work closely with Swindon Council and the university to look at what could be done."

As yet there are no specific plans about any specialism in particular subjects or disciplines.

However, it is thought that the proposed campus' proximity to the railway line would make it attractive to anyone on a part-time course, such as a business qualification that could be studied alongside a career.

"I think the nature of higher education is changing," said Mrs Brooks. "People come back to it later in life - I did a postgraduate education course as a mature student 10 years ago.

"The idea that a degree is for three years is beginning to change, and there seems to be a loosening up."

Swindon College is already looking at developing its business, management and construction courses.

The amount of space it would be allowed to develop by the Government would depend on which courses it offered, as mechanics and other subjects needing workshops take up more room than classroom-based disciplines.