The Department for Education has released a guide to the £38 million capital fund for providers to use in wave one of T-levels.

The cash is being offered to help build new classrooms, refurbish buildings and upgrade equipment next year in readiness to deliver the new technical qualifications from September 2020.

The fund is split into two parts: the specialist equipment allocation (SEA) and the competitive buildings and facilities improvement grant (BFIG).

The 52 providers in wave one will receive the SEA, but will have to apply for a BFIG by April 17.

However, the BFIG will not be available to independent training providers, which has led its industry group to accuse the Department for Education of bias towards colleges.

The chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers Mark Dawe said: “The bias towards colleges has been implicit for a long time and now the DfE has made it explicit.

“It’s just more money being thrown to colleges when it’s the ITPs that are delivering what employers want.

“There have been multiple offers from ITPs to engage their business networks, especially to meet the major challenge of finding appropriate industry placements, but the DfE has been ignoring or rejecting the offers.

“We wish them luck with T-levels, because we think the DfE are taking the same old path ignoring those that can make a difference, and it will be added to the list of  failed technical policies.”

Just two providers out of the 52 set to deliver the first three T-levels is an ITP.

The capital fund guide reveals that providers will need to match the cash.

“You are expected to provide a minimum funding contribution equivalent to 50 per cent of the project value from own or third party resources,” it says.

“That is, for every £1 from us, you should invest an additional £1.”

The guidance recognises that all providers “may not be able to do this”, but the DfE will ask “for evidence in your application to show you have exhausted all avenues of securing additional funding”.

“Once we have this information we will determine any award following an affordability assessment,” it adds.

Skills minster Anne Milton said: “T-levels are a once in a generation opportunity to transform technical education in this country.

“It will be vital that they have access to the latest, high quality equipment and state-of the art facilities during their studies.

“The T-level Capital Fund will help those further education providers at the forefront of delivering these important reforms to be ready to teach T-levels from September 2020.”

The first T-level courses will cover in education, construction and digital.

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  1. How can T levels ‘transform’ technical education if they’re only available at 52 centres? T levels are promoted as a technical alternative to A levels but this can never be the case unless T levels are as widely available as A levels. There are already Level 3 qualifications on a par with A levels: BTecs and the like. These vocational exams should be as widely regarded by the government as academic A levels. Not a chance with this government which constantly pushes university entrance, particularly Russell Group, as the most prestigious pathway.