UK colleges win $114m deal to train Saudi women

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(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Three UK colleges formed a consortium to secure a £75m ($114m) contract to run a women-only vocational training institute in Saudi Arabia, it was announced on Sunday.

The NESCOT consortium consists of three further education colleges including North East Surrey College of Technology (NESCOT), Highbury College Portsmouth and Burton and South Derbyshire College, a statement said.

The Jeddah women's college is one of 11 tendered for by Saudi Arabia as part of a SR4bn contract with leading colleges in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Spain to provide technical training for Saudis in line with market needs.

The project comes as the first wave of a concerted effort to raise skills training in Saudi Arabia, particularly for women.

The consortium is the only one of its kind as the first consortium of UK FE colleges to establish a college outside the UK, the statement added.

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

Each college has been specified and constructed by the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) of Saudi Arabia which is a Saudi Government agency with responsibilities for the oversight and management of technical and vocational education delivery across the kingdom.

Sunaina Mann, principal of NESCOT College, said: "All our hard work and effort has been rewarded with a contract to run a women's college in Jeddah.

"We know that the skills and expertise of the UK partners will help transform the lives of many women in Jeddah. We hope this will the first of many such colleges."

Faisal Tabbaa, partner in the Eversheds Riyadh office which advised the consortium, added: "The Saudi government is committed to driving skills training across the kingdom. The NESCOT consortium is integral as this project will provide a template for future partnerships to improving the skill base of the Saudi workforce.

"International education is a strong driver for the education sector and the chance to use our expertise on this ground breaking project has been really pleasing."

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