People’s views needed on plan to merge colleges

South Tyneside College
South Tyneside College

A six-week public consultation has opened into a plan to merge South Tyneside College with its counterpart in North Tyneside.

College leaders say merging South Tyneside College and Tyne Metropolitan College will strengthen their overall package of teaching and learning and safeguard existing services.

Bill Midgley

Bill Midgley

People will have until Friday, March 17 to air their views.

The proposed new organisation - planned to be called Tyne Coast College - will operate across all existing campuses on both sides of the river, supporting the education and training needs of around 20,000 students.

The plans come amid a Government review of Further Education, and have been endorsed by Further Education Commissioner Richard Atkins and the councils in both areas.

The colleges believe the merger will result in a higher quality and financially stronger college that can better deliver improved skills for students.

Andrew Watts

Andrew Watts

Priorities will include being a provider of the high level technical and professional skills needed to support the economic development of the A19 corridor, including the creation of the new International Advanced Manufacturing Park near Nissan.

The proposed merged college would also support the North East Local Enterprise Partnership in its ambition to create more and better jobs, reskill and upskill those in employment, and develop a flexible and skilled workforce that can meet the needs of the region’s businesses.

A Public Consultation Document is now available to view on the websites of both colleges.

Andrew Watts, chair of governors at South Tyneside College, said: “We very much welcome input from the public into this important change to the way education is delivered.

“In my view, merger is a very sensible and positive proposal which will lead to a bigger, better and stronger all-round teaching and training organisation, ready for all challenges.

Bill Midgley OBE, chair of governors at Tyne Metropolitan College, said: “By combining resources and bringing together the expertise of staff, we will position the new college at the forefront of education in the North East and beyond.

“Individually, we provide exciting, first-class provision, but to maintain that excellence in the years ahead, it is necessary to bring about this change.”

The Public Consultation Document can be viewed on the colleges’ websites at www.stc.ac.uk/pvc and www.tynemet.ac.uk.

A hard copy can be requested via Rosamund Moore, Company Secretary, Tyne Metropolitan College, Battle Hill Drive, Wallsend, NE28 9NL, or by calling her on 0191 229 5000, ext 5312, or by emailing rosamund.moore@tynemet.ac.uk