The region’s largest specialist land-based college is celebrating today’s government announcement that it will receive multi-million pound government funding to develop a new state-of-the-art teaching and learning facility.
East Durham College’s Houghall Campus, situated on the outskirts of Durham City, is one of 16 colleges across England to benefit from the government’s £1.5 billion FE Capital Transformation Fund, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Gillian Keegan announced today (8 April).
The fund was first launched in September 2020 by the Prime Minister to rebuild and transform college estates and create modern, fit-for-purpose spaces that meet the needs of students and the communities they serve. Houghall is one of 16 colleges nationally, who have been successful in securing funds in the third phase, with funding expected to be awarded this Autumn.
Suzanne Duncan, Principal and Chief Executive, said: “We are all absolutely thrilled at this amazing news. It’s obviously been an incredibly hard year for the education sector, and of course the whole of the country, so to receive this news is a fantastic boost for our brilliant students, hard-working staff and the region.
“The 476-acre Houghall estate was lucky enough to receive £10m from the North East LEP’s Local Growth Fund back in 2016, which enabled us to complete phase one of our redevelopment masterplans for the site. However, due to the sheer size of the campus and decades of underinvestment there is still a massive job to do to get the whole site fit for teaching in the 21st century.
“This capital funding award will enable us to complete phase two, with the building of a brand new teaching and learning block that will also include a new science labs, higher education centre, library, refectory and gym.
“Houghall has seen its student numbers grow massively over the last decade or so and the importance of the land based skills and training we provide are vital to the future growth and prosperity of our region, so this new development will help secure that future and allow us to continue to grow our higher level technical skills provision in fantastic new facilities we can all be very proud of.”
Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Gillian Keegan said: “It is fantastic news that we are launching the next phase of this transformation programme, working with a small number of colleges that are some of the most in need of support to upgrade and revitalise their estates.
“As we recover from the pandemic, it is vital our colleges continue to be great places to learn with excellent facilities.
“Our priority is making sure every student receives high quality education and training, no matter where they live, so they can gain the skills they need to progress into work and help the economy to rebuild and grow.
“This significant investment forms part of the government’s landmark reforms – through the Skills for Jobs White Paper – that will transform further and technical education and deliver the skilled workforce employers and the economy need, helping to level up skills and opportunities for more people across the country.
“The reforms build on the action already underway to transform the post-16 landscape. This includes rolling out T Level qualifications, establishing a network of Institutes of Technology, and through the new Lifetime Skills Guarantee making sure everyone, no matter where they live or their background, can gain the skills they need to progress in work at any stage of their lives.”