Constructionarium plasters over shortfall with £250,000 for Norfolk centre and Scotland expansion

The industry’s sole dedicated site-based training centre for university students has secured the funding necessary to guarantee its future.

Constructionarium, which is located at the National Construction College at Bircham Newton in Norfolk, appealed to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) earlier this year for stop-gap funding after revealing it faced a shortfall of £2.7m over the next three years.

The HEFCE has now approved an application for about £250,000, which will supplement funds raised from industry to keep Constructionarium operational until it concludes negotiations in the immediate future. Organisers had feared that without public money the centre would have been forced to scale back its programmes and possibly to shut down.

Stef Stefanou, chairman of Constructionarium and John Doyle Construction, said: “This advance from the HEFCE secures the future of Constructionarium as far as the revenue is concerned.” However, he added that additional funds would need to be raised to go on and build the Bircham Newton centre.

Constructionarium is also planning to expand in Scotland, after establishing a temporary site in the country with the support of Dunne Civil Engineering. The training organisation is now negotiating to acquire a 25-year lease on 3-5 acres of land to establish a permanent centre in the region. It is also working to receive funding from Scottish authorities.

By the end of June 2010, 5,000 undergraduates will have been trained at Constructionarium since its creation in 2003, including students from Italy, Russia and the US. Twenty universities, 17 contractors and 17 design consultants are involved with the scheme, including firms such as Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine and John Doyle Construction.

The initiative has largely been funded by the industry since its creation, securing about £3m of support in cash and kind from the industry alongside around £1m of funding from the East of England Development Agency. Its organisers estimate that the ConstructionSkills levy will soon be able to cover the running costs of the site.

UK constructionarium participants

Universities, contractors and engineers

  • Salford, Costain, Jacobs
  • Liverpool, AJ Morrisroe, Mott MacDonald
  • Nottingham, Sir Robert McAlpine, Walsh Associates
  • Westminster, Stephensons, Ramboll (UK)
  • London South Bank, Byrne Bros, WS Atkins
  • Southampton, Laing O’Rourke, Faber Maunsell
  • Stow College, Glasgow; Dunne, Halcrow
  • Northumbria, GB Building Solutions, Space Architecture
  • Leeds, Shepherds, Arup
  • Loughborough, Laing O’Rourke, Waterman
  • Cambridge, Stephensons, Ramboll (UK)
  • East London, Mitchellson, WS Atkins
  • Greenwich, Byrne Bros, WS Atkins
  • UCL, Laing O’Rourke, Waterman
  • Imperial College London, John Doyle Construction, Expedition