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Universities have for a long time relied on external funding to allow them to continue to provide the educational opportunities they do, and this is usually made up of a mix charitable donations, earning through research contracts and consultancy and tailor made short courses to bring in fees.

However, increasingly the Further Education sector is seeing a similar need to bring in additional revenue to fund ever increasing options at this level of study, from A Levels and NVQs to apprenticeships and a whole range of vocational courses. Facilities, campuses and teaching staff all need paying for at the end of the day – you don’t need us to tell you that.

To some within education, focusing time on business projects to bring in revenue seems to go against what they are paid to do – teach our young people and give them the best start in life. But of course it is all tied together, and unfortunately in the fast-changing landscape of the FE sector colleges of all types are finding it necessary to seek out business development opportunities and diversify their income.

This needn’t be of detriment to the education you offer your students, in fact in nearly all cases it can enhance it – for instance many colleges offering catering courses run restaurants and cafes open to the public that bring in a vital revenue stream. However at the very same time they are the perfect learning aid for their students, giving them real experience of cooking for paying customers.

If you haven’t really made steps into developing business opportunities then it can seem a minefield, but in fact you’re probably already aware of many FE colleges and sixth-forms offering fantastic commercial facilities to the public already.

We thought it would be interesting to point out that in the UK collectively 1,274 commercial enterprises exist at 1,298 sites (Solus report).

These are made up of hair and beauty salons, nurseries, venues and services for hire, theatres, restaurants, travel agents, sports centres and florists.

Gym and sports centre at New College Swindon


Envy Beauty Salon South Gloucestershire College


@34 Restaurant – Exexter College

Of course revenue streams can be even more diverse than this or they can exploit business partnerships within the local community (perhaps working with a business to offer training courses or facilities)

…. And it’s all very well having facilities, but ultimately they need to be marketed and communicated effectively to get the benefit from them.

At Elephant Creative, we understand that when you have an idea for a new business stream or opportunity, but don’t know where to start, it can feel like nailing a jellyfish to the wall.

To help with this we have developed a couple of stand-alone, fixed fee projects that creates a strong starting point for future activity.

Our business development services are utterly logical and transactional.

Find out more here.