Students at Tyne Metropolitan College are enjoying improved downtime between lectures through a slice of a £500,000 investment in catering services.

The college’s main Coach Road campus now has a revamped Costa outlet, and retailer Costcutter has also opened up shop.

The improvements are part of a package of investment delivered by catering specialist Sodexo at TyneMet and two other North East colleges.

Sodexo, which operates TyneMet’s catering services, has also upgraded facilities at South Tyneside College and Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College, in North Tyneside.

All three colleges became part of the new Tyne Coast College in August 2017, when South Tyneside College and TyneMet merged.

Eamonn Murphy, Sodexo’s account manager at Tyne Coast College, said: “This significant investment is great news for students and for staff at TyneMet.

“The services we delivered were first-class, but we recognised we could enhance that through a greater variety of product.

“Students prioritise learning, but they also need down time that is inspiring to them and adds to the student experience.

“We have taken on board feedback from students and partly designed our new offer around that.

“This investment is part of our long-term support for Tyne Coast College in which we will move from being a provider of services to a highly-valued partner.”

Audrey Kingham, Principal of TyneMet, said: “Students come to college to learn, but they also want special places where they can relax between lectures.

“We deliver excellent learning, and that should be matched by similarly high quality canteen and recreation areas.

“The overall college experience is very important to students, which is something that extends far beyond the classroom.

“Sodexo is a long-term partner, and this latest investment will benefit all college users.”

At South Tyneside College, Sodexo has improved the main Eat canteen and a smaller food and drink hub.

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 rebranded as a new-style Bakehouse.

Bakehouse will provide 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.

Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College, in Hawkeys Lane, North Shields, 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 started operating catering facilities under an eight-year contract at Ridgeway Primary Academy, in Park Avenue, South Shields, which is sponsored by Tyne Coast College.

It plans an initial £15,000 investment in facilities, money that comes on top of that being spent at the colleges.

The company 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 said: “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.”