Breaking: Funding announced for five new national colleges

Breaking: Funding announced for five new national colleges

The government has announced the breakdown of £80m funding it has dedicated to creating five new national colleges — with one for high speed rail scooping half the total amount.

Today’s announcement revealed that the National College for High Speed Rail, located in Birmingham and Doncaster, will receive £40m from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) for the construction of new buildings and equipment.

Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, and Sheffield Combined Authority and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will provide a further £6m each, alongside around £5m in equipment from industry.

It comes after FE Week reported in December that business proposals for seven different employer-led National Colleges had been considered — but only five had been given the go-ahead subject to due diligence checks.

This morning’s announcement was the first time BIS officially confirmed they had passed the checks, and a breakdown of where the £80m will be allocated had been provided.

Skills Minister Nick Boles said the approved “national colleges have been designed with employers, for employers. They will produce the skills needed now and into the future to ensure the UK remains innovative and at the forefront of pioneering industry”.

The National College for Nuclear in Somerset and Cumbria will gain the second largest slice of the BIS funding — securing £15m for buildings and equipment, together with a further £3m from the South West LEP and £4.5m from Bridgwater College.

These new institutions for high speed rail and nuclear, along with the National College for Onshore Oil and Gas, in Blackpool, will open in September 2017.

The National College for Onshore Oil and Gas will also get £5.6m from BIS, with equipment donations from industry.

The National College for Digital Skills, set to open in September, will receive £13.4m from BIS and £18.2m from the Greater London Authority and the London Enterprise Panel.

And the National College for the Creative and Cultural Industries, which will also open at the start of next academic year, will get £5.5m from BIS, £5,000 from Creative and Cultural Skills and £1m in equipment from industry.

All five of the new national colleges will focus on delivering high-level technical skills at levels four to six.

BIS originally pitched the idea of national colleges in June 2014.

It released a document, named ‘National Colleges – a call for engagement’, which stated they would “set a new standard for higher level vocational training” and “deliver the higher level technical skills that businesses need”.

The government department called on interested parties who saw the opportunity for a national college in their sector, industry or profession to apply, stating that it had £50m to invest in match funding from April 2015 up to March 2017.