Fresh investment in food and drink services has transformed the way students relax between lectures at South Tyneside College.
Around £280,000 has been injected into a facilities upgrade to help learners better refresh body and mind during breaktimes.
It has been used to improve the main Eat canteen and a smaller food and drink hub at the Westoe campus in South Shields.
Eat has been rebranded as The Dock, with the section’s existing Costa coffee outlet turned into a Starbucks.
A second onsite Costa, at the Learning Resource Centre, remains, with a refreshments area around it being rebranded as a new-style Bakehouse.
Bakehouse provides a mix of grab-and-go drinks and food, including original dishes.
In all, £90,000 has been spent transforming this area and refurbishing an adjoining recreation room into an eating zone.
The upgrade has been made by national catering company Sodexo, which operates at the campus.
Sodexo account manager Eamonn Murphy said: “This investment is great news for students and for staff.
“The facilities we delivered were first-class, but we recognised we could enhance that through a greater variety of product.
“Students come to college to learn, but they also need down time that is inspiring to them and adds to the student experience.
“We have taken on board feedback from them and partly designed our new offer around that.
“This investment is part of our long-term support for the college in which we will move from being a provider of services to a highly-valued partner.”
Alison Maynard, Deputy Chief Executive of Tyne Coast College, said: “It is important that the high-quality learning students enjoy is complemented by similarly excellent down-time.
“Delivering inspired learning is our priority, and that can be best achieved when students are able to enjoy the overall experience of being at college.
“That means providing services outside that inspire them to be that more focused when they return to their classrooms or workshops.
“Sodexo’s investment is significant and reflects the strong and long-term relationship we together enjoy for the benefit of our students.”
Overall, Sodexo has invested £500,000 at South Tyneside and on smaller upgrades at Tyne Metropolitan College (TyneMet), North Tyneside, and Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College, in North Shields.
All three sites are part of Tyne Coast College, formed in 2017 from the merger of South Tyneside College and TyneMet.
Sodexo has also started delivering catering at Ridgeway Primary Academy, South Shields, which is sponsored by Tyne Coast College.
It has been contracted to operate catering facilities at the Park Avenue school for eight years and plans an initial £15,000 investment in facilities.
At TyneMet’s main Coach Road campus, the refectory’s Costa outlet has been revamped and a branch of retailer Costcutter, which operates at South Tyneside College, has also opened.
Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College has enjoyed a revamped refectory, with its Costa outlet having a Jolt offer added.
Jolt offers a range of modern-style, hot, nutritionally-balanced meals with a twist, combined with a coffee and grab-and-go offer.
Sodexo has also secured an eight-year deal with Newcastle’s new North East Futures University Technical College (UTC).
As well as catering services, it will also provide full facilities management, including security, caretaking, cleaning and CCTV monitoring.
A spokesman for Sodexo added: “We are very excited with our new long term partnership with Tyne Coast College Group.
“We have made significant investment in the services and outlets across all campuses.
“To enhance the student experience, we used student insight to model each outlet as their feedback and input is integral to the success of the operation.”