Today the Government announced the short list of places which are bidding to host the HS2 College. Earlier this year, without any suggestion of where the money for this institution would come from, this college was announced, sparking a flurry of cities and towns who all of a sudden thought they might get something out of HS2.
However, the short list of four potential sites for the college are all places which the Government is adamant will already ‘benefit’ from HS2; Birmingham, Derby, Doncaster and Manchester. Of course the big question is whether or not this college is actually necessary. When the idea of the college was first announced, Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:
“The need for a new further education college for such a high profile and significant public project shows the crucial role FE colleges can play in building skills and linking vocational education and training with economic planning and development.
“However, it is worrying that existing colleges allegedly don’t have the capacity or expertise to train sufficient numbers of young adults and adults with the skills needed. The Government should be helping FE colleges to provide engineering and requisite skills. The need for an HS2 college may show there should be a review of how vocational education and training fits into wider industrial policy and skills development. The government seems to think that inventing new schools and colleges is the answer to everything.
“It is important that staff in any new college – as well as in all existing ones – are fully qualified to teach or working towards recognised teaching qualifications.”
And it’s not just colleges that already train in these skills. It may be a surprise to many, but the UK is already home to the world’s leading high-speed rail research centre, located at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and there are many other universities which teach the skills needed.
While an announcement on where the college is based will come in July, already the list of places hoping to get something out of HS2 is shortening.