College Building Programme Saga Continues

The LSC, the government funding body for Sixth Form Colleges, has written to college principles this week to admit that they have messed up again.

In April this year, they wrote to say that the few successful projects from the mishandled multi-billion pound college rebuilding programme would be selected and announced on June 3rd (today). The main criterion they had hoped to use was a readiness to start building within weeks, assuming that most projects would fail to jump this hurdle. Now the LSC admits that they had seriously underestimated the numbers that would succeed, and will not be able to make a decision this month:
“Many more colleges have put forward a case for their projects to be considered as 'shovel ready' than expected, and so unfortunately we are not in a position to ask the Council on 3 June to approve individual projects.”
Most of these project have started to build already or could do so by September, so this is already cutting it a bit fine for instructing the contractors.

So, to further cull projects, the suggestion is now to pressurise colleges to cut corners on their plans:
“The challenge for colleges will therefore be to radically reduce the cost and the scope and sourcing of the funding of their projects. Revisions to the scope of projects could include rethinking or deferring whole projects, or components of projects, in favour of a contribution to costs incurred to date and/or funds for refurbishment. We will only consider funding complete re-builds where they are absolutely necessary, which should be in only a few cases.”
And although not wanting to rush anyone into any rash changes:
“We will expect all colleges on the short list to come back with revised bids and plans by the end of the month …”
The other selection criteria suggested will favour urban regeneration and poor inner-city areas, so there seems little chance for my college's project to get the nod. It is a complete rebuild in a provincial Sussex town, and although we currently squeeze 1500 students into what was, half a century ago, built as a 600 pupil boys' high school, I don't see us getting very far up the list.

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