Hertfordshire university opens £120m PFI campus

25 Sep 03
One of the largest Private Finance Initiative schemes ever undertaken in UK higher education was formally inaugurated this week as the University of Hertfordshire welcomed students on to its new £120m campus in Hatfield.

26 September 2003

One of the largest Private Finance Initiative schemes ever undertaken in UK higher education was formally inaugurated this week as the University of Hertfordshire welcomed students on to its new £120m campus in Hatfield.

Facilities on the new site include 1,600 en-suite student residences with broadband Internet connections, a sports village, a 460-seat performance auditorium and a 24/7 high-tech learning resource centre.

An innovative e-education system, StudyNet, allows students to access lecture notes, submit work and liaise with tutors from any computer terminal.

The university has now consolidated all its activities on two sites in Hatfield – the new de Havilland campus and the existing College Lane campus. Hertfordshire's business school and faculties of education and humanities have moved from buildings in Hertford and Watford.

The £120m-project was undertaken with Carillion, the construction-to-services company. It was financed by a £60m bond, £7m from the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the proceeds of the university selling its campus buildings in Hertford.

Vice-chancellor Professor Tim Wilson said: 'The PFI has received much criticism, but it can be an efficient route to generating funds for modern facilities. A PFI deal means that the project is guaranteed to be delivered on time and on budget.'

The 30-year maintenance contract, he added, ensures that at the end of the lease the university inherits well-maintained buildings.

In 1999, a £170m PFI, then the largest such scheme in the higher education sector, enabled King's College London to bring together 7,000 students from all over London to two of its three Thames-side campuses.

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