Lowestoft and City College Norwich get £4m funding boost to improve buildings
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A £4m windfall for two of the region's colleges will lead to better buildings, increased participation, and improved prospects for students.
Lowestoft College and City College Norwich are among 47 sites to benefit from a £214m capital funding announcement by the department for business, innovation and skills (BIS).
The money will be put towards refurbishment and improvement projects worth about £7.5m for the two colleges, which aim to give students better environments to learn in.
Lowestoft will get a grant of £2.88m through the Skills Funding Agency while City College's share is worth £1.14m.
Skills minister Matthew Hancock said: 'I am delighted to announce that Lowestoft and City College have secured around £4m in government funding to transform their campuses.
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'Too many colleges in the past have been uninspiring and not good enough.
'The government is helping to create specialist facilities that will ensure thousands of students get the best possible learning experience and inspire them to meet their aspirations, while addressing skills shortages across industries.'
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According to the government, every £1m of capital investment increases participation by between 62 and 86 learners a year and a £5m college refurbishment project can employ up to 60 people.
Teresa Miller, vice-principal at Lowestoft College, said £3.9m of improvements would take place over the next two years and would lead to better hair and beauty salons, refurbished student support services, and new engineering laboratories.
The Lowestoft skyline is set to get a boost when the college tower block is re-clad to improve its energy efficiency while a new area for students with learning difficulties and disabilities will also be created.
She said: 'This is a wonderful opportunity for the college and will help us work towards providing excellent teaching and learning facilities for our students and staff.
'The project should be completed by September 2015 but, because of its phasing, students will start to see the benefit this September; student support services will be relocated to a central site on the campus, in newly-refurbished premises, whilst hair and beauty will open in new salons that match those in the high street replacing the 1960s salons that are currently in place.'
In February this year Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, joined skills minister Mr Hancock on a tour of Lowestoft College where they saw training facilities including the 18m purpose-built climbing and rescue tower used to train workers in the offshore renewable energy industry.
Mr Aldous said the visit may have helped secure the funding for the college from an impressed Mr Hancock.
He said: 'It is much deserved recognition of the great work that the college is doing in higher education in providing young people in the area with the skills for the work place.
'I think the injection of investment will build on the excellent work the college is doing.'
In Norwich, the funding will go towards a £3.58m project to improve the Ipswich Road further education campus.
As well as replacing roofing, windows, and other parts of the site's oldest building, a new single storey, 600sq m Construction and Built Environment Centre will be created.
Principal Corienne Peasgood said: 'The Norwich Building has been at the heart of education in Norfolk for six decades. It's an inspiring and vibrant place for students and staff alike – but it does require looking after.
'This project will ensure that the building serves Norfolk for at least another 60 years.
'The construction of a new building at the rear of the campus will expand our campus to allow us to engage new students in modern accommodation which will help them learn.'
Simon Wright, Norwich South MP, said: 'This money could help to make a real difference to further improve the offer for students.'