A UNIVERSITY has announced plans to undertake its largest ever expansion of staffing as it prepares to welcome thousands of extra students in the next six years.

The University of Essex says it will be creating 100 new academic roles and a further 50 professional posts as part of its strategic plan.

The plan outlines the university’s ambition to add nearly 3,500 new students to its books, which will be a significant increase to the existing 16,500 students.

Vice chancellor professor Anthony Forster said: “Our new strategic plan sets out our ambition to grow the university to 20,000 students and 1,000 researchers by 2025.

“We know that our staff are our most valuable asset.

“In the year we were awarded Times Higher Education University of the Year,I am immensely proud we are prioritising investment in staff.

“This will further enhance the educational experience we offer to our students as well as boost the research power of the university.

“We know students want us to invest in staff and that’s what we have announced.”

The university, which already employs 2,500 people, says the new staff and extra students will be based across all three of its campuses in Colchester, Southend and Loughton.

Work is already underway on building a new teaching centre on the main campus which is scheduled to open next year.

The three-storey building will include 15 new teaching rooms which will have an average capacity of 40 people.

The university says it will continue to “plan for the development” of the university’s three campuses to ensure there is enough living accommodation on offer to students.

The newest accommodation, called the Copse, opened in October and offers 643 single ensuite bedrooms and studios.

The expansion is the largest since the university opened 55 years ago.

Prof Foster added: “In response to record levels of interest from applicants in securing undergraduate and postgraduate places at the University of Essex, combined with an increase in externally-funded research and our overall financial health, the university is investing in a step-change in staffing to support our mission of excellence in education and research.

“We are a university that puts student and staff success at the centre of what we do.

“We want to attract outstanding scholars who share our values, who want to work in a university committed to excellence in education and research, and are excited about offering a transformational education to our students.

“The university has a proud history of making change work for our staff and students and I am delighted we are seizing the opportunity to shape our future.”