Training venues: University challenge

With some of the best training and meeting facilities in the country, the UK’s universities are available to learning and development professionals in search of a suitable venue to hold events. Training & Coaching Today offers you a selection of the best.

Weetwood Hall Conference Centre and Hotel

Location: Leeds

Description: Set within nine acres of parkland estate and built around a 17th century manor house, the Leeds University-owned Weetwood Hall is a dedicated conference centre combining extensive four-star hotel services and facilities.

Capacity: 450 delegates, with the largest room accommodating up to 180-theatre style.

Training facilities: 37 dedicated conference and syndicate rooms a conference reception/business centre complimentary internet/e-mail stations, with wireless internet access throughout five breakout areas and data projectors fitted in each main training room and all other standard AV equipment available.

Parking: 170 cars, free parking.

Accommodation: The hotel has 106 en-suite bedrooms, while the manor house has 12 luxury bedrooms and two four-poster bedrooms.

Rates: Eight-hour rates start at £45 and 24-hour rates start at £140 (incl VAT).

Dinner menu: Includes roast pepper and blushed tomato soup orange and honey baked leg of gammon and fresh raspberries, crushed meringue and cream.


City University
Location: London

Description: Based in the heart of London, City University offers venues suitable for conferences, training courses, meetings, presentations and residential teaching programmes.

Capacity: Venues seat between six and 448 delegates.

Training facilities: A number of training/seminar rooms and lecture theatres, with networked computer and video-data projectors.

Parking: Limited, but this central London location is well-served by public transport.

Accommodation: Its student residences are available over the summer period. Group rates start as low as £19.

Rates: The day rate starts at £32.95. The 24-hour rate starts at £62.95.

Dinner menu: N/A


Wellcome Trust Conference Centre
Location: Cambridge

Description: Connected to Cambridge University, the Wellcome Trust Conference Centre comprises a purpose-built conference centre and a Grade II listed country house, Hinxton Hall, and is set in 55 acres of open parkland on the banks of the River Cam.

Capacity: There are a range of meeting and training rooms, including a 300-seat tiered auditorium, a 60-seat meeting room and 50-seat training suite.

Training facilities: Include a dedicated IT training room with 20 workstations, plus a number of smaller meeting/breakout rooms.

Accommodation: Includes 60 rooms within the Residential Court and 10 executive-style rooms in Hinxton Hall. There is also a two-bedroom self-contained cottage on site.

Rates: Day delegate rate: £54 (excl VAT). The 24-hour rate: £164 (excl VAT).

Dinner menu: Includes rustic leek and potato soup, grilled rib eye steak and raspberry bakewell.


Warwick Conferences

Location: Coventry

Description: Part of the Warwick University campus, Warwick Conferences is located on the outskirts of Coventry and is easily accessible by road, rail and air. Situated at the hub of the country’s motorways (M1, M6, M40, M42), London is 70 minutes by rail and Birmingham International Airport is 12 miles away.

Capacity: There are more than 300 meeting rooms in the Conference Park and the three training and conference centres. These include a tiered lecture theatre, which holds 120 people, and Butterworth Hall on the main campus, which can hold 1,200 people.

Training facilities: Equipment includes high-speed internet access and remote controlled AV systems, including digital data projection. DVD player, flipcharts and pens. A whiteboard and screen are also available.

Parking: The main campus has more than 5,000 car parking spaces on-site.

Accommodation: There are 479 en-suite double bedrooms equivalent to four-star hotel standard.

Rates: From £125 (excl VAT) for a 24-hour rate, and from £45 (excl VAT) for a day delegate rate.

Dinner menu: Includes wild mushroom soup, seared fillets of bream, and cappuccino mousse with a whisky sabayon.


University of Glamorgan

Location: Pontypridd

Description: With the conference facilities on campus, the university is located 10 miles from Cardiff, 10 minutes away from the M4, and about a 40 minute journey from Cardiff International Airport.

Capacity: Has a dedicated conference centre with meeting rooms for up to 225 delegates, theatre-style. Also has a five-star executive boardroom.

Training facilities: Standard AV equipment.

Parking: Free car parking for up to 90 cars.

Accommodation: Only available on-site during the summer holidays in its student residences. It has also compiled a list of accommodation providers in the area.

Rates: Day delegate rates start from £28. The 24-hour delegate package starts from £68.

Dinner menu: Welsh goats’ cheese and beetroot roast saddle of Welsh lamb, and chocolate and Welsh whiskey tart.


Coventry TechnoCentre

Location: West Midlands

Description: Located on Coventry University Technology Park, the TechnoCentre offers a range of flexible conference and training rooms with state-of-the-art audio visual equipment.

Capacity: Flexible conference suites to accommodate up to 200 delegates.

Training facilities: Computer suite, as well as video-conferencing and wireless internet access.

Parking: Free on-site car parking

Accommodation: Non-residential but the IBIS Hotel City centre is located adjacent to Coventry TechnoCentre. Other hotels located in the centre of Coventry.

Rates: The day delegate rate is £42.50 (excl VAT).

Dinner menu: Includes foccacia topped with spinach and buffalo mozzarella fillet steak medallions and Turkish delight crème brulé.


Foresight Centre

Location: Liverpool

Description: Part of the University of Liverpool, the Foresight Centre is housed within an impressive Grade II listed building.

Capacity: The venue has 15 meeting rooms than can accommodate between two and 140 delegates.

Training facilities: All rooms have access to AV equipment, and video conferencing facilities are available. There is also a 16-delegate dual screen IT suite, which is fully serviced by an in-house IT professional.

Accommodation: The Foresight is non-residential but has arrangements with several nearby hotels.

Rates: Day delegate rate is £33 (excl VAT). The 24-hour rate: £120 (excl VAT).

Dinner menu: Includes fillet of smoked trout, roast fillet of Scottish beef and Italian panacotta.


University of Essex

Locations: Colchester and Southend

Description: The University of Essex is spread over two locations in Colchester and Southend. Both an hour from London, the Colchester venue includes the Wivenhoe House Hotel, with spacious conference rooms while at Southend, the Business Hub offers purpose-built meeting facilities. Both campuses offer iLabs – inspiring venues designed to stimulate innovative thinking.

Capacity: Up to 1,000 people.

Training facilities: Computers, DVD, video, and internet linked to a projector.

Parking: More than 300 free spaces.

Accommodation: Year round at the three-star Wivenhoe House Hotel, while single en-suite student accommodation is available July to September.

Rates: Day rate is £30.50 (excl VAT) and the 24 hour rate is £85.60 (excl VAT).

Dinner menu: A standard three-course dinner is available.


Edinburgh First

Location: Edinburgh

Description: As the events team at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh First is charged with promoting the university’s venues to external companies. From the ornate 19th century St Leonard’s Hall to the contemporary South Hall and the intimate Abden House, Edinburgh First has a venue to meet the needs of almost every type of meeting or event.

Capacity: The university has a range of meeting rooms, including two 19th century and one 18th century halls that can each hold up to 60 people. The largest space – the Assembly Hall – can hold more than 1,000.

Training facilities: Projectors and standard internet and wi-fi access available at all facilities.

Accommodation: There is hotel and B&B-style accommodation available, as well as student rooms in the summer.

Rates: The 24-hour rate starts at £120. The day rate starts at £48.

Dinner menu: A standard three-course dinner is available.


More venues

If you are interested in finding out more about the array of academic venues available for training events and what they offer, a good port of call is Venuemasters – a company that promotes the facilities of more than 80 UK academic venues. It offers an easy venue finding service and a good selection of meeting and conference rooms that offer the perfect event management solution.

For those eager to mine this rich seam further, the Academic Venue Show may be of interest. Featuring representatives from 50 venues from more than 30 cities and towns, the event is being held at the Business Design Centre in London on 13 May 2008.

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