Sunderland College’s Bede campus is to be transformed to provide students with some of the best sports and visual and performing arts facilities in the UK.
Angela O’Donoghue, College Principal, said: “Our students deserve the best – they deserve to learn in an environment which gives them access to the latest facilitiies and equipment, preparing them for future training, education and employment.
“As a result we have revised our estates strategy and are now focused on the priority facilities. The improvements we are proposing are the most cost effective solutions.
“The College is operating in an extremely competitive environment, and while other colleges in the region have carried out investment programmes we have so far been unable to due to the withdrawal of Government funding.”
The College will inject £22million into the project to ensure it can continue to offer top quality learning facilities for the young people of the area.
The College plans to raise these essential funds through a mixture of accumulated reserves, loans, grants and sales of assets. This will include the sale of its existing campus at Shiney Row, with the provision delivered at this centre being transferred to the new facilities and other campuses across the city.
The Bede campus developments will see the creation of two brand new ‘academies’ for Arts and Sports.
The Arts Academy, for dance, drama, music, media, photography, art and design courses, will include recording studios, film screening suites, dance & media studios, green rooms, practice spaces, film processing and dark rooms, and teaching studios.
And a new Sports Academy will include top class facilities such as a sports science laboratory, fully-equipped fitness suites, treatment room and a four court sports hall – as well as fully equipped classrooms with the latest digital and wireless technology.
Angela said: “These planned improvements will add to our continued successes in other areas, including our excellent pass rates for students, student satisfaction rates and the high quality of our teaching.
“We can now move ahead to get the facilities in place for students joining us on programmes in 2013/2014.”
Sunderland College has been reviewing its facilities for the past three years and initially it had ambitious plans for a new site on Newcastle Road in Sunderland city centre. But after government funding through the Capital Building Programme was withdrawn, the college had to rethink its strategy.
Work at the Bede Campus is expected to take just under two years to complete, with the new facilities due to open early 2014.
Angela added: “I want to make it very clear that this capital investment and the restructuring of our staff contracts are not in any way linked. The revision of staff contracts was needed to deliver savings for the long term.
“The funding for this programme of investment is coming from the sale of our Shiney Row campus with some additional funding from loans.”
*Sunderland College is holding a public consultation evening at its Bede Campus on Thursday July 5, at 5pm. Following that the plans will be sent to the Council for approval.