FIFE COLLEGE’S new £90 million campus in Dunfermline could be delayed by at least four years until 2023.

That’s the fear of principal Hugh Hall, who called on the Scottish Government to “do the right thing” and resolve the financial impasse.

The college have major concerns about the ‘hub’ funding route they’re being encouraged to take, believing the cost will be “significantly higher” and highlighting a question mark over its legality.

Mr Hall said that the PFI-type deal posed a “very real risk of a loss of direct control of its main campus by the college” and questioned the £32m difference of opinion over the cost of maintaining their current campus.

From the start, the aim was for the new campus for 6,000 students at the old Hyundai site at Halbeath to open in the summer of 2019.

But in a letter to staff and students he admitted: “No decision has yet been taken on whether and how the new campus will be funded but the government has indicated that the most likely investment route is through the private finance schools hub, despite the college’s fundamental concerns.

“We estimate that, with a fair wind, the new campus is unlikely to be up and running before 2023 using hub funding.”

Last week, when the Scottish Funding Council announced its indicative funding allocations for 2018/19, there was no money for Fife College and they were told “the new college campus will not be funded through traditional public capital grant”.

Mr Hall said the Scottish Government must “address our very legitimate concerns over their preferred funding route” and hoped they “recognise the overwhelming business case for a new campus in West Fife”.

He added: “To invest money in short-term patching up of the campus would not be good value for money. Public investment in the Fife College campus is required as a matter of urgency.

"I sincerely hope that the Scottish Government do the right thing and invest in the college for the benefit of our students, staff and the wider Fife economy.”

Mr Hall said that in October 2014, the Scottish Government announced a new college for Fife to be funded under the NPD (Non-Profit Distributing) investment route.

The following year, that form of financing looked likely to end but the college was asked to continue “on the assumption that some such model would be available”.

Last January, the college agreed to revise and resubmit its business case. When it was presented in July, the SFC “were broadly content” and submitted it to the government for a decision on funding.

In August, the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), a public agency that advises government on capital infrastructure projects, and Fife Council invited the college to look at the schools private finance hub capital investment route.

Mr Hall said that, after careful consideration, they “concluded that it was not a feasible option for a variety of reasons”.

Asked in September about a funding decision, deputy first minister John Swinney said he was “unable to offer any assurances” due to the government’s spending review in December.

According to Mr Hall’s letter, Mr Swinney “urged the college to continue to explore the private finance schools hub option”. The idea was again looked at but the college outlined their concerns to the SFC in November.

They wrote to Mr Swinney in mid-December, “reinforcing the college’s concerns on the hub private finance route” and asking how and when the college would be funded. The reply in January said SFC and government officials would be in touch to address the concerns.

Mr Hall wrote: “Some three months later, we have not received a formal response from the SFC/Scottish Government to our concerns.”

He said there were also “conflicting messages” on the maintenance backlog for the existing Halbeath campus.

An independent estate survey in 2014 concluded it would cost £33m to bring it up to a “basic standard”. The estimate is now “at least £36m” but the SFC’s own survey last year concluded it would cost £4m.

Mr Hall wrote: “According to the SFC’s own criteria, reliance should have been placed on the college’s 2014 independent survey.

"For reasons we cannot explain, the surveyors undertook a survey of the Halbeath campus and arrived at a backlog maintenance investment requirement of £4m.”

He said that sum would only keep the building wind and watertight and added: “It is very evident to anyone who has walked around Halbeath that the investment required to bring it up to a basic standard would be closer to £36m than £4m.”

An SFC spokesperson said: “ For the existing Halbeath campus, last year’s independent report into college estates looked ahead for 3-5 years only and costed for essential on-going maintenance of buildings and facilities during that time.

"It also contained a contingency in case of any major issues.

“The consultant’s report acknowledges the fluctuating nature of estates management. SFC is therefore very aware that the report needs constant review and we work closely with the college sector to monitor changes, including investment in new buildings.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The simple reality is that the original financing model proposed for developing a new campus for the college – the NPD model – was effectively ruled out as a result of changes in EU accounting rules.

"That has affected a number of proposed projects, not simply Fife College.

“Despite this, the government is determined to ensure all involved work together to support all viable options to ensure the best possible education facilities in Fife.‎”