Plans to merge two colleges are moving forward

South Tyneside College
South Tyneside College

Two colleges have confirmed their plans to merge.

South Tyneside College and Tyne Metropolitan College have announced they are moving forward with proposals to merge.

However, union bosses are seeking assurances that members will not lose their jobs.

A spokesman on behalf of both colleges, said following preliminary talks, which began earlier this year, the governors have agreed a merger.

of South Tyneside College and Tyne Metropolitan College have agreed to further develop proposals for merger.

He said: “The colleges are examining this option to strengthen and protect education across both boroughs in response to national funding pressures, which point towards more being done with less.”

The plans are a proactive response to the government’s area reviews into further education which started in the region this month and are expected to promote fewer, larger and more financially resilient colleges.

Sir David Collins, the FE Commissioner, has said he supports the plans of the two Tyneside colleges merging.

The spokesman said: “Individually, the colleges provide rich and fulfilling learning experiences to thousands of UK and overseas students each year, including through high quality apprenticeships, vocational and academic courses, and much more.

“We have achieved success by creating bespoke curriculums based around the needs of students and the region’s employers. This has provided our students with the skills and qualifications to take their places in the modern workforce.

“But, we must emphasise that we have identified many opportunities that could be achieved by working collectively. These include meeting severe funding challenges through greater financial resilience, having greater potential to support inward investment and to attract business, scope to develop essential specialisms, the continued provision of high quality and relevant education and training, and the exchange of expertise and best practice to deliver outstanding education.

“A key motivation is ensuring students benefit from better facilities and resources, that staff gain from increased opportunities for professional development and career enhancement, and that employers have a single point of contact and a broader range of apprenticeship and training solutions.”

Iain Owens, regional official for the University and College Union, UCU, said: “Our main priorities are to ensure that there will be high quality education provided on both sides of the Tyne and on the back of that there will be no redundancies for our members.”

The spokesman for the two colleges, said: “We will be working closely with staff and college unions to make a merger as beneficial as possible to all.

“It is really important for us to hear the views of everyone who is interested, and there will be opportunities for members of the public to provide us with feedback over the coming months, including during the public consultation process.

“The next area review meeting will take place in October and we will arrange to brief staff following this meeting, and to provide regular updates.

“In the meantime, further negotiations between the two colleges to explore all options are continuing.”