`Partners of choice' bring pound;1bn boost

18th April 2014 at 01:00
UK providers to run 16 `colleges of excellence' in Saudi Arabia

Colleges and training providers in the UK are leading the way in the creation of 100 vocational institutions in Saudi Arabia.

Last week it was announced that contracts worth pound;850 million had been awarded to UK providers to operate 12 "colleges of excellence" in the Middle Eastern country. Seven of these single-sex institutions will be female-only and will eventually train a total of 14,000 women each year.

The successful bidders were: Lincoln College; Hertvec, a consortium consisting of Hertford Regional College, North Hertfordshire College and the University of Hertfordshire; Fesa, a consortium of leading UK colleges and training providers; and the Oxford Partnership, comprising Activate Learning, Gems Education Solutions and Moulton College.

The latest round of five-year contracts brings the total amount awarded to UK colleges and firms to pound;1 billion, after deals struck last year by TQ Education and Training, and the Nescot consortium. Together, the six UK companies and firms will run 16 institutions, almost half those assigned to providers so far.

Skills and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock said the agreements were a "vote of confidence" in the UK's education system. He added: "I visited Saudi Arabia earlier this year in support of UK bidders and am particularly pleased that they will soon be offering high-quality practical skills training to an additional 24,000 Saudi students, including 14,000 women."

Ibrahim Al-Moaiqel, director general of the Human Resources Development Fund in Saudi Arabia, said the country was "reaching out to the best of the best in the world, as partners of choice".

"We are delighted that six UK institutions will be bringing their experience and expertise, and working with us to help shape future opportunities for our citizens," he added.

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