£360m of upgrading work required on college buildings

£1.83m of urgent works are needed at Ayrshire College’s Ayr campus, the report said

A new report has estimated that it would take over £360 million of work to bring Scotland’s entire college estate up to an acceptable condition.

A review was commissioned by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) to take stock of college buildings across the country and to help manage future estate development following a major period of prolonged investment.

Over the past 10 years almost £900 million has been invested in the college sector estate as a continuation of new investment made since 2000.

The review, which included all of Scotland’s 25 colleges, estimated that around £360m is needed to bring the sector’s existing estate up to an acceptable wind and water-tight condition and to maintain it at that level for up to five years.

Property consultants Gardiner & Theobald, which carried out the survey, said that Ayrshire College’s Ayr Campus faces the most costly bill for “very high” priority repairs needed within a year with an estimated £1.83m of urgent works.

West College Scotland’s Finnart Street campus in Greenock has the biggest five-year maintenance backlog bill at £15.53m. The external fabric of the 1970s tower was described as “very poor”.

John Kemp, interim chief executive of the SFC, said: “Over the past decade nearly £900m has been invested to provide new and inspiring college buildings that are amongst the best in the UK.

“However, the college estate is extensive and some parts of it do require attention.”

Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, said that some campuses required “significant investment”.

She said the report does not take into account any costs required to make buildings fit for purpose or flexible to changing curriculums or provision.

She added: “Students require a modern environment in which to study, learn and gain the skills required for the workplace.

“Increased capital investment would, therefore, not only significantly benefit the learner experience, leading to improved retention and attainment, but would also allow colleges to contribute fully to Scottish Government priorities.”

Further education minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said that ministers had asked for the survey to “ensure there was a robust and consistent assessment of the condition of buildings right across the college estate to help identify priorities for future investment”.

She added: “This report clearly identifies areas where college buildings deliver on our ambitions, but equally it outlines some challenges in the condition of buildings in some specific colleges.”

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