PLANS to extend and refurbish buildings at Milton Keynes College to cope with a predicted increase in student numbers are under way after the college was awarded a £3 million grant.
The money will be spent on extending, refurbishing and repurposing college buildings at its Chaffron Way campus for the engineering and construction departments.
The money has come from the government’s new Post-16 Capacity Fund and the extra space is needed as a result of the growth of the city – by 2024 it is predicted that there will be 700 more young people finishing their GCSEs 4 than today.
More students are opting for further education rather than sixth form once they have completed their GCSEs, attracted by the career opportunities on offer from T-Levels, apprenticeships and the digital courses taught at the South Central Institute of Technology.
Milton Keynes College Group’s head of estates Liana Sinclair said: “The success of this bid is a real vote of confidence in Milton Keynes College Group by the Department for Education as by no means every college around the country that applied has been awarded the money they wanted.”
The college has had to limit the number of students on its engineering and construction courses because of the limited space in classrooms and workshops with their industry standard equipment.
“In the longer term, the availability of increased workshop space will enable Milton Keynes College Group to develop a new curriculum which develops and adapts skills with an environmental and sustainability focus,” Ms Sinclair said.
Milton Keynes College Group has also confirmed a new partnership with construction company Careys to provide groundworker apprenticeships. Delivery of the apprenticeship will take place from the Careys office at Bleak Hall, which under the terms of the partnership has become a joint Careys and Milton Keynes College Group campus.
The college will take over the ground floor, where the meeting rooms and open-plan environment provide space for classroom-based learning, with all practically based work carried out in the yard area at the rear of the building.
Ms Sinclair said: “There is a significant shortage of skills in the area in the engineering and construction sectors and these two announcements will put the Milton Keynes College Group at the forefront of the struggle to meet that demand. Young people are realising that there are some great careers to be had in the sectors and that this is the place to come to take those first steps towards them.”