Further education in the UK is changing faster than ever and many local authorities are now considering new ways of funding much needed capital works.
Jane Kemp, a partner at Adducere, is spearheading a solution for many cash-strapped public sector organisations. Adjuto, a joint venture between Adducere and Willmott Dixon, is an innovative new funding model that provides a different approach to sourcing funding for public sector bodies.
She said: “The further education landscape in this country looks very different today compared with even ten years ago. We have seen a real shift away from the more traditional sixth form college towards industry-specific colleges providing vocational training. Devolution deals call for review of post-16 and 19+ educational services in various regions with a move towards integrating colleges as part of Academy Trusts, resulting in a number of key challenges for local authorities.”
Addressing the skills gap
Richard James, HEFE sector manager at Willmott Dixon, added: “There is a very real skills gap in this country and that is something that has been recognised by central government and is being addressed through the creation of FE colleges designed to meet the needs of industry – the National Colleges for High Speed Rail in Birmingham and Doncaster, for instance, which need bespoke facilities to deliver very specific skills.
“Much of the country’s existing stock is outdated and not suitable to provide the work-ready students demanded by industry, so the requirement for high quality teaching and learning spaces is increasing all the time – against a recent backdrop of tightening budgets.
“The financial pressures facing further education colleges are huge. Colleges are responding to these challenges in a number of ways, including mergers to streamline operations and attract funding, by working more closely with schools and academies to secure student numbers, and by offering new learning routes from apprenticeships to degree-level. These in-turn often require investment into new facilities.”
New funding solutions
Funding solutions are key to delivering much needed infrastructure and Jane believes the Adjuto model could be the answer for many colleges.
Jane said: “Modern sixth form colleges need much more sophisticated buildings to better fit the wide mix of needs for the various courses and different levels of teaching required. The capital requirements of these types of building can lend themselves to the Adjuto model as a funding solution.”
The model allows public sector organisation to access private capital to help fund a development, principally through the transfer of land and long lease income – achieving a saving of up to 10 per cent for the public sector.
Jane added: “The structure provides secure income for investors at a low initial yield with significant flexibility for rental terms. This model also includes a pre-agreed buy back option – this is a big differential from standard pension funds, forward funding or PFI options.”