Group - Ashford College expansion gets Government fund backing
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Ashford College expansion gets Government fund backing

A major extension to Ashford College has been given Government support, as additional funding was announced today.

The EKC Group’s bid for investment through the Post-16 Capacity Fund has resulted in a financial injection into its Phase 2 project at the Elwick Road campus.

It is the only Kent-based project to be successful in receiving part of the Fund, designed to increase capacity for a growing cohort of students entering Sixth Form and College age.

Phase 2 will see the College's right wing extended

The work will see a new building constructed which will house additional facilities for Information Technology, Engineering and Business courses.

Efforts to submit a planning application request will now begin.

EKC Group CEO Graham Razey welcomed the news, saying: “There’s a real and pressing need for additional high quality technical and vocational education places within the community served by our Ashford College.

“This fund is enabling providers like ourselves to futureproof provision, and grow it in line with local need. It will ensure that the many thousands of young people we and others can train due to this fund, are able to ‘Level Up’ with new opportunities available to develop outstanding skills that meet local employers’ needs.

“Our College Group has a mission to play a leading part in enhancing the social and economic prosperity within the communities we serve, and this fund will enable us to do this for even more people.”

Altogether, the upgrade will allow an about 250 additional students to study with Ashford College.

The ‘Engineering Hub’ will aim to promote access to the field for females and underrepresented groups, and is set to focus on how engineering can create solutions to climate change and decarbonisation.

It will be the first building work on the site since the College opened in 2014 as part of Ashford Borough Council’s Big 8 projects.

Council leader Gerry Clarkson noted: “This is excellent news for the college, current and future students, and the wider borough as it will enable the next phase of the development of Ashford College to come forward, which is one of the Council’s priorities in our Corporate Plan.

“This announcement means the delivery of the multi-million extension on the Elwick Road site to support Engineering, Business and IT curriculum provision and expands the capacity of the college to meet the increased demand for educational provision in Ashford.”

Ashford MP Damian Green also added his congratulations, saying: “It’s absolutely fantastic to see this investment in building the capacity of Ashford College.

“The capacity fund was created to ensure providers that are primed to grow get the opportunity to do so.

“This funding will ensure the college is future proofed and able to deliver a first class education for students who attend it as Ashford continues to grow and flourish in the future.”

Mr Razey was very grateful for the overwhelming local support the College has received from people and groups across the borough.

He said: “This project wouldn’t have been possible without the wonderful support we’ve had from all of the key stakeholders across the Ashford Borough, from the council to the local MP Damian Green, to the wonderful employers here.

“This work is absolutely a result of their fantastic partnership work with us and we’re delighted this has come to fruition – we’re very much looking forward to seeing this vision become a reality.”

This excellent news for EKC Group comes just days after the organisation opened a new employability centre down the road from Ashford College.

Its IntoWork business unit will use its new site to teach employability skills to reintroduce unemployed people back into the workplace.

For more information about Ashford College and its current courses, click here.