From education to employment

Glasgow defies credit crunch with £300m super-campus

The global financial downturn has been responsible for the collapse of many funding aspirations, and Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, has recently confirmed a looming recession on the economy’s horizon. However, no one seems to have told Glasgow, which is seeing its funding plans remain in place for a £300m city centre super-campus.

Central, Metropolitan, Stow and Glasgow College of Nautical Studies set up a company to deliver New Campus Glasgow in May this year. The largest further education project in the UK will boast 50,000 students and 2,000 staff.

At Central College’s annual staff conference, Mark Batho, chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: "Our planning is based upon a number of assumptions, the most critical of which are that costs are kept tightly under control as the planning proceeds; and that current levels of capital spending for colleges are carried forward into the next spending review. As long as those assumptions are met, it’s all systems go – it’s budgeted for and planned for."

Iain Marley, the Project Director for New Campus Glasgow, welcomed the statement, said: "We are in a really strong position now. We have a master plan that’s coming together very well. We are on the cusp of putting the project out to European Union tendering, which is a very important milestone, and the benefits we will bring to businesses is at the very heart of our business case to the Scottish Funding Council."

Mr Marley claimed the project, which will go out to tender this month, has already attracted interest from architects across the world. Work on the campus is expected to begin in 2011, and scheduled for completion in 2016.

Last month, the Board of Management at Central College called for the four colleges to come together to create one super college before locating to the new campus.

Paul Little, Central College’s principal, said: "The sooner the four city centre colleges surface, debate and discuss their hopes and fears alongside their shared dreams and aspirations, the sooner we can all focus our collective energies to realise the once-in-a-lifetime prize of a world-class and global-sized college on a world-class site for a world-class city."

Mr Little, who joined last October, told the conference how Central has been able to support more students from deprived areas than any other college in Scotland. He also believes more employees will turn to Central to train and update their skills as the credit crunch deepens to improve their employability.

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