A merger has finally been agreed between Sussex Coast College Hastings and Sussex Downs College. Downs College is the largest further education college in East Sussex offering training from foundation to degree courses including the campuses of Lewes, Eastbourne and Newhaven. All together they educate almost half the county’s young people and more than 8,000 adults each year as well as in the workplace.
Financial reasons aside, the colleges decided to go down the road of a merger because they believe it will be a positive and pro-active step to ensure the continuation and development of further education and sixth-form provisions for their area and community, now and in the future. They believe that the partnership will mean that although both colleges will retain their existing campus and ethos they will be able to share their wealth of expertise, staff talent, state-of-the-art facilities and resources for the benefit of the students.
While mergers between other further education colleges have been planned in the past, several never came to fruition. Dagenham, Barking and Havering Colleges is an example, where the parties involved have discontinued discussions. However, Hastings and Downs College seem to have completed their plans including community consultations and finalised the merger on March 18.
Education specialist Caroline Johnson (an expert in school issues and complex education in general) explains that the reason for the merger is “driven by funding cuts well beyond the future challenges in the further education sector”. Of primary importance is to make sure that the boards of both colleges are confident the new merger will continue to provide the quality of education to benefit the student and the local community. Caroline Johnson adds: “Choose your merger partner carefully – shared culture will be vital for the merged colleges’ futures.” For further information go to: http://www.sussexcoast.ac.uk/merger.html
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