Last Friday, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) unveiled a short-list of 13 FE building projects that have successfully proceeded to the next stage of development.

Geoff Russell, LSC chief executive, said: "These are the projects that will bring the greatest benefit to learners and communities across the country.

"They will have a substantial impact on the education and skills environment in their locality by transforming the condition of college buildings. In conjunction with wider regeneration projects to which they are integral, they will help to revitalise communities." 

The 13 colleges, selected from more than 180 as part of the latest round of the FE Capital programme, are:

  • Barnsley College
  • Bournville College
  • Furness College
  • Hartlepool College of Further Education
  • Kirklees College
  • Leyton Sixth Form College
  • Manchester College – Wythenshawe
  • North West Kent College
  • St Helens College
  • Sandwell College
  • South Thames College
  • Tresham Institute of Further and Higher Education, Corby
  • West Cheshire College

Based on recommendations made by Sir Andrew Foster's FE report, the LSC has been working in close consultation with the sector to inject funds where they will have the biggest impact for learners, employers and communities.

The short-listed colleges are now being urged to make savings wherever they can to maximise further funding opportunities that have been battered by the downturn. The LSC warns that they will only receive funding if the overall cost is reduced; a task the body says is "significant but manageable".

Mr Russell commented: "While they show good value for money and excellent links with third party funding, we will ask each of these colleges to find additional cost savings in order that we can afford to fund additional projects."

The general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), Dr Mary Bousted, warned of the impact on many colleges that were unsuccessful in meeting LSC's strict criteria.

"Some of the unsuccessful colleges will have their budgets hit hard since their building work is already well-advanced," said Dr Bousted.

"This news comes at a particularly tough time for FE colleges because their funding has been cut on several fronts with cuts in funding for adult education and train to gain. The cumulative effect is grim - lecturers face redundancies just when more people want training and reskilling to escape unemployment during the recession."

A LSC statement explained: "For colleges which have not been selected to proceed this year, the next steps will start this autumn when we will further consult with the sector to agree a robust, fair and transparent process for prioritising the capital investment programme for the next Spending Review period starting in 2011/12. The size and scope of the programme will depend in large part on the outcome of the next Spending Review.

"Many colleges have incurred development costs for projects which will not now be going ahead in the short term. We have a contingency fund to mitigate the impact of potential aborted costs on the financial health of colleges. This will be limited to those appropriately incurred within the terms of the capital programme."

(Pictured: LSC chief executive Geoff Russell)

 

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