ALMOST £100million could be spent on creating a south Essex University - but council leaders are at loggerheads over where a campus should be based.

A ‘technical university’ is being proposed for south Essex, but leaders of both Basildon and Southend councils want a main campus to be based in their town centre.

The plan, costing in the region of £97million, has bee mooted by the association of south Essex local authorities, with the university set to offer degree apprenticeships - meaning students will live and work in the town surrounding the campus.

Early proposals include a campus, student accommodation, and a parade of shops.

Gavin Callaghan, leader of Basildon Council, said he wants young people to live, work, and raise a family in Basildon, something which the new university will allow. He said: “With the Pro Cat college and the potential of more training colleges, it would make sense for it come to Basildon.

“We need the supply chain in place. We are investing in and improving our primary and secondary schools and we need a further place to move onto.

“We need to make sure for those aged over 18, there is accessible places for those who perhaps don’t want to travel far for university in Basildon.

“It could be part of any university in the UK.”

The association of councils will aim to “work with an established higher education partner”.

Southend Council leader Ian Gilbert insisted the borough would welcome a university campus - despite already having a University of Essex campus in the town.

Mr Gilbert added: “Of course we would be interested in a university campus.

“We are in early stages of discussions but any major provider of education would bring positive benefits to the region.

“We would want to see a further education provider in Southend.

“Skills in construction and engineering are really important.”

It is hoped the new university will be a “major driver, directly and indirectly, of economic growth in south Essex.”

Documents from the association of south Essex local authorities, said: “It will provide undergraduate and post-graduate teaching, along with research tailored to local and national issues.

“It will use existing and new facilities across the sub-region, linking together the currently fragmented offer and adding new, so that there is a consistent set of choices throughout the region.

“The university will support high streets as they cope with the changing nature of retail.

“Investment in a central campus will provide additional opportunities to mix, mingle and learn with other students, and create jobs.”