Colleges announce plans for merger

By Nub News Reporter

27th Mar 2024 | Local News

Two local colleges have launched a public consultation on a proposed merger that could offer "the biggest change in further education in Dorset since the 1940s".

Weymouth College and Kingston Maurward College are welcoming public feedback ahead of a suggested merger this summer.

The proposal is to combine the strengths of both institutions into one college that offers an enhanced educational experience for students across the region.

The consultation follows months of fact-finding about the opportunities offered by combining the two colleges' resources and expertise.

Based just 10 miles apart, the colleges have historically operated collaboratively and offer a complementary range of courses. Kingston Maurward specialises in land-based courses at its 750-acre countryside estate, while Weymouth College provides a wide range of general and technical further education courses, including A Levels, at its modern campus on the Jurassic Coast.

The merger proposal suggests that by joining forces, a financially stronger, more resilient, and ambitious organisation would ensure the sustainability of further education provision in the local area for generations to come.

Leaders also say that a merger would enhance curriculum in time and provide students and apprentices with broader opportunities to pursue their passions and aspirations. Steve Webb, Chair of the Board of Governors at Weymouth College, commented: "We are committed to building a college that not only meets the needs of our students but also contributes positively to the socio-economic fabric of Dorset.

"This merger represents a strategic opportunity to enhance educational provision and foster greater collaboration within our region."

Echoing his sentiments, Rob Lasseter, Chair of the Board of Governors at Kingston Maurward College, added: "This partnership marks a pivotal moment for education in Dorset. By pooling our resources and expertise, we can create a stronger, more dynamic learning environment that benefits our students and community.

"As we embark on this journey towards a proposed merger, transparency and inclusivity are paramount. We are committed to keeping our stakeholders informed every step of the way and welcome input and feedback. Together, we can build a brighter future for education in Dorset." The college chairs described the proposed merger as a "generational game-changer fit for the rapidly changing challenges of our time".

The planned merger will help to address local skills gaps and meet the changing needs of regional employers. More tailored and bespoke programmes could support Dorset's economic growth, as well as the new college becoming a major local employer itself.

Building on the legacies and community links of both colleges, each site would retain its uniqueness while working collaboratively to provide diverse and enriching learning environments that enhance educational opportunities. A public consultation on the proposed merger has now been launched and will run until 30th April. Community members, employers, staff, and students are all encouraged to participate. Responses will help to shape the future of education in the region.

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