THE University Of The West Of England plans to build a campus in the town - with North Star being the most likely location.

The new university has been branded unique because it will offer more work-based learning and be employer led.

It is hoped some of the town's major businesses will fund the university and the courses will be closely tailored to meet employers' needs.

Advanced engineering, financial services, ICT, health and social care will be a big focus in line with the Swindon economy.

The university will accommodate 3,000 students, some of them residential.

John Rushforth, the deputy vice-chancellor at UWE, said: "We will deliver teaching to employees while they work.

"The courses will be bespoke to the individual needs of employers like Honda and Intel.

"We are also looking at delivering heritage courses, which aren't available elsewhere."

He said North Star would be an appropriate site as it is council-owned, close to the town centre and has good transport links.

"From my perspective it looks like a pretty good site, but employers can still influence where the university is built." he said.

"There is a lot of work to be done and it is critical that we establish what the people and employers of Swindon want and will support, in order to make a robust case to funders and other potential investors to secure this exciting possibility."

Swindon Council leader Coun Roderick Bluh said: "If we are to be successful in attracting and keeping high-value employers, we have to be able to provide them with the right people with the right skills.

"That's why I'm so pleased we signed this agreement with UWE, because they share our vision for the town."

The negotiations to secure UWE were led by the Swindon Strategic Economic Partnership.

Businessman Rikki Hunt, the Chairman of the SSEP,said the university will be more practical than most.

"The focus on work-based learning is going to make it different," he said.

"The danger is we are losing sight of people who have left education early and are in employment.

"It is about allowing people to learn different skills in the workplace.

"We need to find out what businesses want now, but also what they will need in the future."

Day release, evening courses and Internet-based learning will all be explored.

The New Swindon Company confirmed the site would be at North Star, but building dates are still being negotiated.

The New Swindon Company's marketing manager Carol Heneghan said: "We are 100 per cent in favour of a university. It will bring vibrancy to the area and we support this.

"We are looking at how we can accommodate a university in the North Star area."

North Star is already home to Swindon College. Principal Jonquil Brooks said she welcomed the news that North Star is being earmarked as a university site. but said the college already works closely with Bath University.

"We are the biggest provider of higher education in Swindon at the moment," she said.

"We wish to continue working with any university that comes to the town so we can pool resources and share knowledge.

"We have expertise in art and design and UWE has strengths in other areas, so we can complement each other.

"Our strongest relationship is with Bath University and remains so, however."