Garrison town plan for campus

March 1, 1996

Catterick Garrison offers a tailormade market for an enterprising college willing to set up shop in North Yorkshire.

The town, population 16,000 and heavily dominated by the military, has no education provision in striking distance to service the battalion of army personnel eager to polish their skills in readiness for civilian life.

Darlington College of Technology spotted the opportunity and dreamed up The College of the Dales, an ambitious project which neatly solves its own expansion plans, hampered by old, run-down buildings in need of replacement.

The small matter of raising Pounds 6 million will not defeat Darlington principal Peter Shuker. "The college would form our second main campus which we fully intend will be at the forefront of education in this country," he said. "I would like to think that the business community is behind us 100 per cent."

At least half the funds are to come from a Private Finance Initiative, the rest from European and Millennium Fund backing. The financing is breaking new ground for Mr Shuker and his assistant principal Pat Gayle who were this week considering four PFI quotes.

The Darlington College board meets on March 8 to approve the plans. If passed, securing funds will be the priority if the campus is to open in October 1997, Darlington College's centenary year.

The College of the Dales will be built on a section of parkland next to the military accommodation site. It will rely heavily on technology to link students scattered thinly around the region. There will be no classrooms at the college since the focus will be on electronic delivery, video conferencing and one to one tuition. There will be little work in groups, instead students will be given individual learning programmes.

"There is already a lot of teleworking in this area and we will simply be building on that," said Mr Shuker. He estimates that 40 to 50 jobs will be created by the project.

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