Former Ucas chief appointed chair of governors at London college

Mary Curnock Cook, who left Ucas last month after seven years, will support Kensington and Chelsea College 'as it moves towards merger'

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Former Ucas CEO Mary Curnock Cook has been named as the chair of governors at Kensington and Chelsea College.

Ms Curnock Cook stepped down from Ucas in April after seven years as its chief executive, and will assume her new role with immediate effect. Her appointment received unanimous support from Kensington and Chelsea College’s governing body.

The college says it is currently evaluating potential merger partners. In 2015 it was announced that it was forming a "strategic alliance" with City of Westminster College and the College of North West London. Since then the other two colleges have announced plans to merge. Kensington and Chelsea College has also held discussions about a potential merger with London adult education college City Lit, but decided "not to progress" the plans. The college has stressed its "commitment to continue to seek a merger partner, as the stand-alone option for the college is not a long-term viable strategic option to pursue".

Michele Sutton, Kensington and Chelsea's interim principal, said: “We couldn’t be more delighted to have as our chair of governors such a high-profile figure and someone who is so passionate about the idea that education at all levels is something that should be available to everyone based on their potential and not their background.

'Exactly what the college needs'

“Despite being busy with her illustrious career in public service, Mary has been generous with her time in acting as an ambassador for education, tirelessly making the case for widening participation. This combination of talent and enthusiasm is exactly what the college needs at this time.”

Ms Curnock Cook said:  “I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to support the college in this very important period as it moves towards merger. One of our priorities in the merger process is that we secure quality provision in the borough for both school leavers and adults, but combined with the efficiencies which will come from being part of a larger organisation."

In an interview with Tes last week, Ms Curnock Cook said that plans to create a central college applications system would be “very natural territory for Ucas”, and that the organisation “would like to be involved in whatever the government decides to do”.

“I think it would be quite extraordinary if the calls for a Ucas-style system didn’t include the possibility of it being Ucas who delivered it," Ms Curnock Cook said. "But that’s not the only solution. We will support whatever decisions are made."

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