Still hope for North Devon College

THERE is hope the money for relocating North Devon College could still be found, principal David Dodd has said. Mr Dodd was speaking in the wake of a damning report released yesterday (Wednesday) which found the Learning Skills Council had been awarding m

THERE is hope the money for relocating North Devon College could still be found, principal David Dodd has said.Mr Dodd was speaking in the wake of a damning report released yesterday (Wednesday) which found the Learning Skills Council had been awarding multi million college rebuild grants from money it did not have.He welcomed recommendations made in the report by investigator Sir Andrew Foster, aimed at putting the national rebuilding programme back on track and suggesting future investment be "needs based" rather than "demand led.""Which is exactly the approach needed to resolve this crisis within further education funding," said Mr Dodd."Our entire project is based on the needs of our community and ensuring we continue to provide outstanding education and training opportunities in purpose-built facilities."We have spent four years carefully developing plans for a new campus in Barnstaple and a skills centre in Bideford."The college had been due to relocate to Seven Brethren, following agreement in principle of a �90 million grant from the LSC - but before Christmas it was advised to put the project on hold.It emerged North Devon was one of 79 colleges awaiting funding "in principle" - and the LSC's �5 billion well had gone dry.In his report, Sir Andrew said the cost of completing the outstanding 45 per cent of college projects has been estimated at between �8 billion and �16 billion, with average grant rates at around 75 per cent. He said the programme had transformed more than half the national further education "estate" and benefited countless students, staff and communities, but that it had been mismanaged and "mistakes made," leaving a great deal of uncertainty for the future."My main recommendation is that an open and truthful engagement and consultation process should be launched as soon as possible to find ways forward on the most important and pressing matters," his report said."The budget issue needs to be resolved, clarifying what is available, what has been committed and whether any other funds can be found. "In North Devon, the �125 million move was intended to help regenerate Barnstaple and its riverfront as well as provide a first class college.Mr Dodd is still hopeful this can be achieved: "If, as we hope they will, the Government decides to make a real investment in the future and commit additional funding to rebuilding colleges, North Devon College will be at the front of the queue," he said.


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