University of Football Stars (Project UA92) by Oliwia year 8

Meeting Gary Neville was a spectacular experience, as well as listening to him talk about the history changing “Project UA92”. What is UA92? University Academy 1992 (it’s full title) is to be a university based in Stretford. 1992 comes from the name and year of the Manchester United football class that the founders were in. Who are the founders to be exact? Star football players, Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and last but not the least Phil Neville – the class of 1992. After leaving the pitch they decided they wanted people to excel and learn in the warm, welcoming area of Stretford. Connecting with the University of Lancaster and other sponsors they have created UA92. By now you probably have many questions…as did the Year 8 students on the morning of Wednesday the 22nd. Mr. Neville did answer them in great detail- this is the idea behind UA92…

Standing at the front of the class Gary Neville was ready to take on the challenging questions Year 8’s had prepared for him. The first question was asked by one of the students sitting right at the back. “Why Stretford?” he shouted out with a positive attitude. From Gary Neville’s long speech about ‘Why Stretford?’ we can conclude that he believed the following. Firstly, it is the connection that he and his co-workers (the Class of 92) had with the area. They played for the very successful club of Manchester United and that gives them enough of a reason. However it doesn’t finish just there. He said this, “Stretford is the only area without really a University. There is a University in Bury, Salford, Altrincham but where is the University in Stretford? There isn’t… yet.”

The questions escalated very quickly from the inquisitive minds of the students. Another one was thrown at the star of our little show, “We heard that you want to destroy buildings important to us? What are they and why?” This really shocked some of us especially since some of the local businesses we still use every week are to be closed and destroyed! These buildings included the Stretford Leisure Centre, Stretford Mall, Essoldo Cinema and many more that make up Stretford as we know it. Changes however can sometimes be good for us, will it be good this time? In Mr. Neville’s point of view these changes are to bring life, positivity and modernity to Stretford. “More people in Stretford means more business for the local shops…”

Stretford Leisure Centre is to be renewed and have more options to it, not only for students but for the whole community to use. A part of Stretford Mall is to be turned into a student block where they will be able to live and most importantly, right across from our lovely school, the University is to be built. How will this affect us? Our school? These were questions floating around our minds. On the other hand many people that get involved within Stretford believe UA92 is a catastrophic idea and it will only influence us in a bad way. Who is right?

Striking off another question a student asked about the studies and subjects that will be at the University. This turned out to be Business, Media and Sport. Gary Neville revealed to us that maybe it does not seem like a lot of subjects but it is expanding within the subjects. He added that he wants to make sure the teachers give you the right support and that he wants the experience to feel professional but friendly and fun. If you are going to this University Mr. Neville will make sure that you get the right job after it so you are using the skills you have gained and not be something irrelevant that you don’t achieve anything in. The environment he wants the University to be is somewhere where you can excel to the maximum of your ability, surrounded with local and international students. It is to be a life changing experience.

Coming to an end a question that is very important and needed to be spoken of was all about the payments, “How much will the University cost?”. I believe the answer to this was very generous of Mr. Neville. He said he doesn’t want us to pay as much. We are all aware of the fact that Higher Education is expensive which I believe is simply idiotic because we have to pay for knowledge but that is a whole other topic to talk about. Neville said this, “We are aware of the fact it is hard to pay for University and we want to make it easier by decreasing the pay amount and giving student loans. The student will only have to pay when actually attending a job and being able to pay for themselves.”  He also spoke about putting lots of extra experiences into the degree thereby making it better value for money. Once of his ideas was to offer 2 year degrees instead of 3 year degrees so that you wouldn’t have to borrow so much money. I believe it is a very good idea because not everyone has money not only for education but for actual survival. Also how are they going to get any money without education and a job? They won’t. Overall, the Year 8 students and I were thrilled to hear this.

To conclude, listening about UA92 and Mr. Neville’s views on the changes that will happen in our local community was an amazing experience. It allowed us to see how little things may have an impact on communities and the ideas behind all of the project.  What are your views on the project of UA92? Don’t forget to join in the local debate. Everybody’s views matter!

Written by Oliwia (year 8)