Thursday, October 29, 2015

News: Rotherham HE campus jumps first funding hurdle

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Proposals for a £12m university campus on Doncaster Gate in Rotherham town centre are set to be beefed up after Rotherham College was invited to bid for funding from the Sheffield city region skills capital fund.

Rothbiz revealed in August that Rotherham Council was in discussions with the college over the disposal of the site of the former Victorian hospital on terms to be agreed.

The council-owned site was controversially cleared and could accommodate a 44,000 sq ft Higher Education (HE) campus - enough space to eventually house 1,000 students. The aim is to be open for the 2017/18 academic year.

The Skills, Employment and Education Executive Board of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority recently approved the mandate for the RCAT Higher Skills Centre to "progress to the outline business case with no caveats."

It is understood that Rotherham College is bidding for £4m from the £13m pot set aside for training space, workshop or launch pad facilities across the Sheffield city region.

Council reports pointed to the fact that Rotherham is the only town, of significant size, within the Sheffield city region without a Higher Education Centre, "which partially contributes to level 4 and above attainment in Rotherham being 12.7 percentage points below the national average and 4.8 percentage points below the regional average."

The timetable for the application for capital funding for the proposed centre included three stages, culminating in February 2016. Gill Alton, principal at Rotherham College, recently told governors that in order to open the higher education centre in 2017 it may be necessary to proceed "at risk" - continue developing plans at the same time as the land deal and funding bid progresses.

The college is proposing to merge with North Nottinghamshire College into one organisation next year. It plans to double the size of the 300+ HE population in three years.

The recently approved Rotherham Growth Plan includes the provision of a town centre HE campus "that will meet the needs of businesses and increase the numbers of Rotherham people trained to degree level."

The plan also includes a potential similar HE Centre in the Dearne, as part of the Dearne Valley College site, that would provide coverage for the large scale growth in jobs and employers in this area.

Rotherham College website

Images: RCAT

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