Sixty-two colleges have been successful in the latest round of funding from the Further Education Capital Transformation Fund (FECTF).
The government committed £1.5 billion over five years to the FECTF in the March 2020 Budget in a pledge to “upgrade and transform the FE college estate”.
The Department for Education is today announcing the names of 62 colleges that will receive a share of £400 million from the second stage of the FECTF.
The amount of funding each college has been allocated for stage 2 has not been released due to “commercial sensitivities.”
Most colleges, 182 altogether, received a grant, in stage 1 of the FECTF programme in 2020. Of the 62 announced today, four are receiving cash from the fund for the first time.
Minister for skills, Alex Burghart, said today:
“Our priority is making sure that every student receives the high-quality training needed to secure a well-paid job, so that businesses in growth sectors such as construction, engineering and digital have a strong talent pipeline as can continue to level up opportunities across the country.
“That is why we are investing to ensure colleges can create modern, fit-for-purpose spaces that meet the needs of students and the communities they serve – and most importantly continue to be fantastic places to learn.”
Capital bids: mystery over match funding
Bids had to be submitted according to strict criteria laid down by the DfE. For example, the fund is only open to further education college corporations and designated institutions and requests were considered primarily for projects which delivered renovations or remedial improvements to existing buildings that were demonstrably in need.
The FECTF is separate from the post-16 capacity fund, which awarded £83 million, again, only to colleges, to build new facilities to accommodate rising numbers of 16-19 year-olds.
DfE guidance stated that the FECTF would contribute 50 per cent of the total project value, with colleges finding ‘match funding’ from sources such as their own reserves, commercial loans, donations or locally managed grant programmes such as the Towns Fund.
Colleges were however able to apply for a “match funding waiver” if they could prove they were unable to raise the amount of required match funding themselves for the work that was needed.
The DfE was asked by FE Week if any match funding waivers had been applied in this round, however our request was refused again on grounds of “commercial sensitivities.”
Prices of materials set to soar
Applications were opened for stage 2 in July 2021 and closed in early October 2021.
Colleges have been advised by their representative body, the Association of Colleges, to re-assess their plans in light of the much more precarious state of the economy today than six months ago when their bids were finalised.
In a briefing for AoC members, its deputy chief executive Julian Gravatt wrote that “there are predictions of continuing inflation and shortages in the construction sector so it would be sensible for any college that is offered funding to consider its ability to complete the project on the terms offered.”
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy publishes monthly statistics on the prices of building materials such as bricks, cement and concrete blocks.
According to Construction News, these figures show that prices rose in 11 of the 12 months of 2021. This has also prompted the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) to warn that prices for some materials have surged a further 20 per cent in 2022, with “further inflationary pressure expected as a result of the crisis in Ukraine.”
Today’s announcement means that around £600 million has now been allocated from the FECTF. In August 2020, just over £200 million was awarded to colleges in a ‘fast-tracked’ process a year ahead of schedule.
Colleges receiving funding
|Abingdon and Witney College||Loughborough College|
|Aylesbury College (Buckinghamshire College Group)||Middlesbrough College|
|Barnfield College||Milton Keynes College|
|Bath College||Nelson and Colne College|
|Birmingham Metropolitan College||New City College|
|Boston College||Newham College|
|Bradford College||North Shropshire College (Hereford, Ludlow and North Shropshire College)|
|Broadstairs College (EKC Group)||Nottingham College|
|Brooklands College||Oaklands College|
|Bury College||Peterborough Regional College (Inspire Education Group)|
|Calderdale College||Salford City College|
|Canterbury College (EKC Group)||Sandwell College|
|Central Bedfordshire College||SEEVIC College|
|Cheshire College South and West||Shipley College|
|Chesterfield College||Solihull College and University Centre|
|Chichester College||South and City College Birmingham|
|City and Islington College (Capital City College Group)||South Devon College|
|City College Norwich||South Staffordshire College|
|College of North West London||South Tyneside College|
|Cornwall College||Stoke on Trent College|
|Croydon College||Tameside College|
|Doncaster College and University Centre (DN Colleges Group)||The City Literary Institute|
|Dudley College of Technology||The City of Liverpool College|
|Farnborough College of Technology||The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (Capital City College Group)|
|Furness College||The Manchester College (LTE Group)|
|Greater Brighton Metropolitan College||The Mary Ward Centre|
|Halesowen College||Tyne Metropolitan College (Tyne Coast College)|
|Lambeth College||Waltham Forest College|
|Leeds City College||West Nottinghamshire College|
|Leicester College||Westminster Kingsway College (Capital City College Group)|
|London South East Colleges||Wiltshire College|