£65 million of new funding to help Welsh colleges and universities reach net zero

Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

The Welsh Government has announced £65 million of new funding to support further education, higher education and adult community learning in Wales.

The package includes £46m to help post-16 education and community learning providers reduce their carbon footprint and improve their digital connectivity.

The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, commented: “We are committed as a government to fight climate change.

“Our colleges and universities have an important role within the national effort to reach net zero, as major employers across Wales and seats of learning for workers who will apply their learning in high-skilled professions.”

In November 2021, the minister also announced that all new school and college buildings will be required to meet net zero carbon targets.

Education providers will use the funding on innovative plans to improve their carbon footprints, as well as improvements to infrastructure, such as converting to LED lighting and increasing the number of electric car charging points.

New training materials will also be developed for college students to learn about net zero, adapted for the wide range of courses available in further education.

For example, students on hairdressing or beauty courses may learn about the origin of the chemicals they use and disposing of them in an environmentally friendly way. Students on construction courses will learn about renewable energy sources and retrofitting.

Funding will also be provided to help further education providers meet the increased costs of consumable materials, such as bricks and timber, which are used in many vocational college courses.

According to the Welsh Government, the cost of steel, for example, is known to have increased significantly during the pandemic.

The funding will also be used to support post-16 learners in response to COVID-19, such as through mentoring and increased mental health support.