Activate Learning has announced a major international expansion with the opening of three further education colleges in Saudi Arabia.
The group is working in partnership with GEMS Education Solutions and Moulton College to open the women-only colleges in September.
The consortium, operating as The Oxford Partnership, is one of four British bids chosen by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its Colleges of Excellence project.
Now in its second phase, the project represents a significant investment in technical and vocational education and training in Saudi Arabia. The first wave of 10 colleges opened in September 2013, with a further 26 due to open in September 2014.
Announcing the national agreements, Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise Matthew Hancock said: “These deals are a vote of confidence in the UK’s improving education system. Exporting helps companies grow and is a vital part of the government’s long-term economic plan to create jobs and reduce the deficit.
“I visited Saudi Arabia earlier this year (2014) in support of UK bidders and am particularly pleased that they will soon be offering high quality practical skills training to an additional 24,000 Saudi students including 14,000 Saudi women.
“I look forward to seeing the UK’s education and training presence continue to grow in Saudi Arabia and internationally. I encourage any company with global ambitions to contact UKTI.”
Sally Dicketts, chief executive of Activate Learning, said: “This project exemplifies our group vision, to transform lives through learning. The colleges represent a significant investment in the training and development of women in Saudi Arabia, empowering them to develop the technical skills and qualifications required for successful futures.
“We are also excited about the benefits this will bring for our UK-based students, both in terms of expanding our global reach and generating additional revenue which can be re-invested in teaching and learning facilities.”
The Oxford Partnership will manage a cluster of three colleges in the north of the country, in Al Jouf, Arar and Qurayyat. New, purpose-built facilities provided by the Saudi government, will cater for up to 500 students per college in the first year, rising to 2,000 per college within five years.
Students will focus on English language training in the first year, before specialising in vocational areas including healthcare, business, IT and finance, hair and beauty, fashion design, and agriculture. Subject areas have been chosen by the government to support growing employment needs in distinct parts of the country.
Activate Learning will develop the colleges’ curriculum and management in partnership with GEMS Education Solutions, an international educational consultancy already delivering education in Saudi Arabia, and Moulton College, which will provide particular expertise in the agricultural programmes.
The Activate Learning group comprises three further education colleges; City of Oxford College, Banbury and Bicester College and Reading College, a schools division comprising UTC Reading and UTC Oxfordshire (due to open September 2015) and a business services division, Activate Enterprise.