HEFCE launches 12 private initiatives

March 29, 1996

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has unveiled 12 "pathfinder" projects for private finance, valued at Pounds 119 million.

The projects, ranging from the relocation of a business school to the building of a new sports and leisure centre for a university and college, have been picked by the funding council for their variety and potential to provide lessons for the sector on the merits and pitfalls of the PFI.

Each will have about half of their PFI-related fees covered by the funding council, which will also give advice as institutions start to search for private backing and attempt to steer a trouble-free course to completion of their schemes.

The projects were announced on Tuesday, as university and college heads met with Department for Education and Employment officials to discuss the use of PFI.

The funding council also revealed that more than 90 projects in search of private partners on PFI terms have been entered on the Newchurch Register - a kind of "marriage bureau" for institutions and potential PFI backers.

These schemes have an estimated value of Pounds 800 million for services ranging from refurbishment of a theatre, at Pounds 300,000, to the creation of a new campus, at Pounds 40 million.

Details of most of the pathfinder projects have been held back to protect commercial confidentiality as institutions seek private backers. Only three have been named: plans for a single centre for scattered departments at the University of Essex, worth Pounds 5 million; the building of accommodation for the law school at Nottingham Trent University, worth Pounds 7 million; and a student union building at Southampton Institute of Higher Education.

Notable in their absence are projects seeking PFI support for capital equipment.

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