£50m fast-track building fund for colleges

Aaron Morby 14 years ago
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Further Education Colleges denied previous upgrade funding are being urged to submit building projects for a share of a new £50m cash pot.

The grant funding follows a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills decision in May to reallocate £50m set aside for the Train to Gain programme to further education capital projects.

Colleges seeking grants will be expected to attract additional private finance, providing final projects of significant value.

Despite calls to leverage the grant to the maximum, projects are likely to be far less ambitious than the previous funding for further education colleges.

Colleges are only eligible if they have not received more than £5m of funding for building projects in the past from the then Learning and Skills Council.

Bidders also needs to show that the building project can be completed by September 2011.

 

The £50m will be invested in projects in two ways.  Under a £30 million Renewal Grant, around 150 colleges will receive approximately £225,000.

These projects will be expected to raise further private investment, significantly increasing their project size.

An additional £20m will be made available through an Enhanced Renewal Grant, through which colleges will be able to bid on a project basis for up to £1 million and will be expected to raise significant further private investment.

The Skills Funding Agency will collate the bids and allocate funding to successful projects.

Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning Minister John Hayes, said: “Many colleges up and down the country are still reeling from the effects of problems seen last year in the capital investment programme, which saw a Review by Sir Andrew Foster criticise ‘failures in the general management and financial management of the Learning and Skills Council.

“We want to make sure as many colleges as possible can benefit from this additional funding we are offering them.”

Criteria have been set for colleges wishing to submit a bid for a share of the funding. These include:

  • Condition of the college and its facilities;
  • The benefits to learners; and
  • Adding to regeneration of local communities.

Skills Funding Agency chief executive Geoff Russell said: “This investment is an indication of the crucial role that further education colleges have to play in not only educating our young people and adults but in helping rebuild our communities and contribute to economic growth.

“We now look forward to receiving the college bids. We will focus on ensuring that the funding is allocated fairly across the sector so that it has the greatest possible impact on learners, employers and local communities.”

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