College gets £18m boost

A MULTI-million pound redevelopment of Suffolk College has been given the go-ahead – boosting the bid to deliver a university to the county.The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) confirmed yesterday it would contribute a minimum of £18m to the £50m bid for a new further education college in Ipswich.

A MULTI-million pound redevelopment of Suffolk College has been given the go-ahead – boosting the bid to deliver a university to the county.

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) confirmed yesterday it would contribute a minimum of £18m to the £50m bid for a new further education college in Ipswich.

The project is central to the creation of an Education Quarter in the town and will be undertaken alongside the establishment of University Campus Suffolk (UCS).

Work is expected to start on the Rope Walk site next year and will see the existing college main building, which was opened in 1961, knocked down.

Dr Peter Funnell, assistant principal and head of learning development at the college, said: "This is fabulous news for the development of education in the region and another step towards the creation of the educational quarter and UCS in Ipswich.

"The two developments are very much a partnership working in parallel and in terms of progress you can link one to the other.

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"It really is great news and the end of a lot of hard work. In simple terms it will enable us to provide services fit for the 21st Century."

Other elements of the funding package for the redevelopment include receipts from the sale of land, a contribution from the East of England Development Agency and borrowing.

It is anticipated that work on the college will be completed by the start of the 2007-8 academic year, to coincide with the opening of UCS.

The new buildings will include engineering and construction workshops, high quality training restaurants and beauty therapy facilities providing real work environments for students, and contemporary IT facilities in a purpose designed learning resource centre.

Nick Foster, chief executive of Suffolk LSC, said the redevelopment would improve educational opportunities for people throughout the county.

"It is a project of regional importance and will make a significant contribution to the expansion of learning opportunities in line with national and local priorities," he said.

The £160million UCS project is a joint venture between the universities of Essex and East Anglia, Suffolk College, the East of England Development Agency, Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council.

It is expected that UCS will share facilities with the college and use land on the current college site as well as a plot set aside on the Ipswich waterfront.

Richard Lister, director of external relations at the University of Essex said: "The universities of Essex and East Anglia are delighted that the LSC has decided to fully support the redevelopment of Suffolk College.

"The project goes hand-in-hand with the university campus development, and this announcement represents another major milestone in achieving an integrated education quarter for Ipswich and a university presence for the whole county."

Tony Lewis, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for children and young people, added: "The new facilities will be a real boost to further education in Suffolk, and will attract more young people into carrying on with their education and training.

"It's very important that we raise the aspirations and achievements of everyone and the range of courses offered by organisations like Suffolk College help people to succeed in employment."

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