The Defence Sixth Form College (“DSFC”) project is a 30-year concession to finance, construct and maintain a new residential college facility in Leicestershire for the Ministry of Defence (‘MoD’), which has been part of the HICL portfolio since 2003.
The College provides ‘needs blind’ educational opportunities to students, which is means tested, and results in a student body that covers a broad cross section of socio-economic backgrounds.
Since 2008, the project company (called “Minerva”) has dedicated funding to supporting more than 60 outstanding students who, due to their family’s financial circumstances, are unable to take part in personal development opportunities. These grants have enabled students to take part in sports tours, adventure training opportunities and leadership courses.
For example, in 2016, this funding enabled eight students to travel to Cozumel, Mexico, where they learned how to dive in open water. For some, this was the first time they had travelled overseas. One student said:
“Growing up I never had an opportunity to travel abroad due to living in a large family with a low household income. Thanks to Minerva funding, I was able to go to Mexico for a week of diving and bonding with my friends [fellow cadets]. I had an incredible experience in adventure training, that without the funding I would have never had. In diving, I learned to be aware of my surroundings, and how to communicate with a group whilst underwater.”
During the week, the students also completed the internationally recognized PADI Open Water Diver qualification:
“Now that I have this qualification, I can experience underwater national parks anywhere my travels with my career may take me. I would once again like to say thank you for giving us funding to be able to attend such a worthy experience.”