The Government is investing £110 million, through the Skills Funding Agency, which will be more than matched with £302 million investment from colleges.
The funding is the third phase of the Enhanced Renewal Grant (ERG3) which has contributed £330 million since May 2010, supporting over £1 billion of investment in college buildings across England.
Making the announcement at the Association of Colleges (AoC) Conference, Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
"These projects will transform the learning environment for thousands of students across the country, providing them with state-of-the-art facilities and modern resources that will help them fulfil their potential.
"Addressing gaps in skills is an important part of our industrial strategy. This initiative is another example of how Government is working in long-term partnership with industry to give them more confidence to invest, hire and grow."
Examples of successful bids submitted to the Skills Funding Agency, who conducted the assessment and moderation process, include:
- South Essex College of Further and Higher Education has raised almost £40 million which will be combined with nearly £3 million grant support to build a new town centre site. It will have facilities ranging from mechanical engineering workshops to student training kitchens
- A new £4 million agriculture building at Bridgwater College in Somerset which will address the growing demand for specialist rural skills and develop closer links with the agriculture industry in the region
- A new £7.7 million creative industries building at Kingston College to replace current facilities
- £8.1 million on refurbishing the campus and building new arts facilities at Burton and South Derbyshire College.
Kim Thorneywork, Chief Executive of the Skills Funding Agency, said:
“Following a high demand of inspirational applications for the Enhanced Renewal Grant, it is great news that the Agency and BIS are able to announce the successful colleges who will receive government funding, through the Agency, to support their projects and enable them to be brought to life.
“This additional funding demonstrates the Government’s continued commitment to the further education estate allowing students to grow and flourish in an exciting, inspirational, modern learning environment in the heart of the local community.”
Julian Gravatt, AoC Assistant Chief Executive, said:
"AoC is delighted to have supported the recent Enhanced Renewal Grant funding process. These grants will provide much needed capital funding to colleges across England.
“These colleges will now be able to improve their facilities for the benefit of the learners, businesses and the communities they serve."
In May this year all colleges were invited to apply for up to £3 million for individual projects, with an expectation that the facilities will be ready to use by September 2014. The resources are aimed at colleges that have not received significant funding in the recent past.
Notes to Editors
1. The 56 colleges that have been selected for receiving funding (subject to due diligence) can be found in the attached document.
2. The ERG3 criteria, which are based upon priorities set by Ministers, were developed with input from college sector representatives. The approved projects were chosen in a robust assessment and moderation process, conducted by the Skills Funding Agency and supported and endorsed by the AoC, using the following criteria:
· Renewal, modernisation and associated rationalisation of the FE estate: Including addressing exceptional urgent requirements such as health and safety-related building repairs and modifications; the requirements of disability discrimination legislation and other similar instances where colleges have a clear statutory duty to ensure compliance and achieving running cost efficiencies. This will include how the proposed project contributes to the college’s overall environmental performance and the wider sustainability agenda.
· Benefits to Learners: Ensuring that the proposed capital investment supports improvements in quality and achieves significant benefits for young people and adults.
· Supporting Economic Growth: With particular reference to how the investment will have a positive impact on tackling unemployment, NEETs, and skills shortages, supporting the growth and refocusing of Apprenticeships, and how other growth measures will be supported.
· Value for money: Assessed against cost benchmark information as well as the projects ability to reduce operating costs and demonstrate a Net Present Value in excess of an appropriate base case.
3. The AoC supported the ERG3 process and provided assurance that the process was applied in robust, fair and transparent way.
4. The Government's economic policy objective is to achieve 'strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries.' It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:
- To create the most competitive tax system in the G20
- To make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
- To encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
- To create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.
Work is underway across Government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the Government wants the economy to travel.
5. BIS's online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See http://www.bis.gov.uk/newsroom for more information.
6. Skills Funding Agency newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches. For full information about the Enhanced Renewal Grant Phase 3 (ERG3) decisions and notification arrangements: http://www.skillsfundingagency.bis.gov.uk/news/pressreleases