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Make way for a 'super campus'

An fe "super campus" in Glasgow city centre, which at one stage looked like it was heading for the buffers, is set to get off the ground.

The Scottish Funding Council announced this week that agreement had been reached among the four colleges - Glasgow Metro-politan, Stow, Central and Nautical - who will amalgamate on the Cathedral and Thistle Street sites to create one of the largest educational developments ever seen in Scotland.

It will have a multi-million pound budget, enrol around 50,000 students, employ some 2,000 staff and cover 75,000 square metres.

The cost of the project, which has faced opposition from Stow and Nau-tical colleges, has been put at pound;200 million. But The TESS understands the figure could be closer to pound;350 million, after contingencies for inflation, VAT, fees and other costs are accounted for.

The agreement by all four colleges means that the first tranche of financial support can be released by the funding council, pound;5 million to cover essential professional fees during 2007-08. The council has approved grant support of up to pound;150 million towards the construction costs and support for loans and ongoing main-tenance during the first 25 years of occupation.

The project, due to be fully completed in 2017, has been driven significantly by the funding council, backed by Glasgow City Council and Scottish Enterprise Glasgow. Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonian universities, which are located in the same area, have also been involved in what amounts to a vision to create an "education village" in the heart of the city, spanning further and higher education and establishing "institutes of excellence".

Roger McClure, chief executive of the funding council, has been at the centre of the protracted discussions and chaired the estates development steering group of the four colleges.

"This is an ambitious and bold vision for Glasgow," he said.

The scale of the undertaking and its potential for sucking cash from other capital projects in further education are such that the funding council has taken the unusual step of agreeing that the project should be a separate item in its submission to the Scottish Executive's spending review this year.

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