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D-Day for £40m college overhaul

PUBLISHED: 16:21 14 August 2008 | UPDATED: 11:36 03 July 2010

A crucial funding decision over plans for a £40m overhaul of Great Yarmouth College was due to be made in London yesterday.

College principal Robin Parkinson was due to travel to London to hear the findings from officials at the Learning and Skills Council which is being asked for £32m of the total costs.

A crucial funding decision over plans for a £40m overhaul of Great Yarmouth College was due to be made in London yesterday.

College principal Robin Parkinson was due to travel to London to hear the findings from officials at the Learning and Skills Council which is being asked for £32m of the total costs.

Ahead of the meeting Mr Parkinson said the scheme had already won nods of approval from the regional committee and that he was confidant of winning a major slice of funding.

If successful building on two new sites will start in September adding a new three storey glass building for construction trades and boat building, and Alchemy 2 for people wanting to start their own businesses in construction.

The project includes new studios for the performing arts and a three-year major remodelling of the whole site.

At the heart of the scheme will be a new “wow factor” entrance with an impressive glass atrium where all the college's public services like hairdressing, sports and restaurants will cluster.

He said the aim was to move into the modern era where teaching had moved on and did not mean students sat behind desks being talked at.

The 1960s built college with its classrooms off long shiny corridors lacked the flexibility to meet the needs of many students and the mainly vocational courses that are taught there, he added

Mr Parkinson said the revamp would include “room to grow” and benefit the 1700 full time students and almost 6000 part time ones on roll.

The college had relinquished its role teaching A levels around five years ago to concentrate on vocational courses from introductory to degree level. The expansion will allow it to broaden its range of courses and teach existing ones more effectively.

In the short term there would inevitably be some disruption with students on one or two year courses not seeing the complete transformation.

Mr Parkinson said there had been many changes at the college in his 15 years at the top but that the new plans were the most exciting yet.

“Having gone through the regional committee it's unlikely that it will be thrown out but they may have concerns,” he said.

Currently around 250 students are on degree level courses, a figure that is set to rise to 750 over the next three years.

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