Portsmouth: Highbury College secures £75m contract in Saudi Arabia

Highbury College Portsmouth and its partners in the NESCOT Consortium have beaten significant international competition to secure a £75 million contract to run a women-only vocational training institute in Saudi Arabia. 

The NESCOT Consortium consists of three high-quality further education colleges and two universities based in the United Kingdom, and takes its name from the founding partner and project lead, North East Surrey College of Technology. Working in partnership with NESCOT are Highbury College, Burton and South Derbyshire College (BSDC), University of Hull and Birmingham City University. Each partner has a reputation for excellence and the delivery of outstanding vocational and technical education in England combined with significant experience of working internationally.

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) has been established by the three colleges and this vehicle will oversee the day-to-day running of the women’s college in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah.

Stella Mbubaegbu CBE, principal and CEO of Highbury College, commented: “This is a landmark occasion for Highbury, both as a member of the NESCOT Consortium and as a representative of the UK further education sector. We have presented a compelling vision of a college that will empower women in Saudi Arabia to pursue their careers with the confidence that comes from receiving the highest standard of training.”

The Consortium was chosen from over 500 global organisations (from the UK, America, Australia and New Zealand) that expressed an interest in running one of this first tranche of 10 vocational colleges in Saudi Arabia.

The college will offer courses in IT, business administration, beauty, fashion and jewellery design with the first year of the programmes focusing on improving English language skills. The curriculum is constructed through a mixture of BTEC and Saudi national qualifications and will see 500 female learners enrolled in year one with a full capacity intake of 2,000. 120 female staff will be recruited to teach in the college as men are not permitted on site while students are in residence.

The project also aligns to a UK Government initiative Education UK, which aims to promote UK education overseas. At the time of the 2012 Education UK launch, skills minister Matthew Hancock said the initiative would specifically target rapidly-expanding markets such as the Middle East and India, with exports in this area able to generate £27 billion annually by 2025.