Preston College principal, Willie Mills, is to retire next summer after four years in the post. In a statement to staff, Mr Mills announced: "My retirement will mark the end of a career in which I have been privileged to work with some fantastic people who have helped me on my personal journey and inspired me by their commitment to realising the vision of further education. "Nowhere has this been more true than at Preston College, where colleagues demonstrate on a daily basis the care and support our students need and deserve as they make their way in life." With 33 years of experience in colleges, 18 as principal, he said he leaves the college confident it deserves an "outstanding" rating at its next inspection.
More businesses must offer apprenticeships, FE minister John Hayes announced as he visited the Nissan factory in Sunderland. The car manufacturer committed to an extra 75 apprenticeships over the next five years, as it launched its new Juke car, production of which safeguarded 1,100 jobs at the factory in the North East. Mr Hayes told factory workers: "We believe apprenticeships should be at the very centre of our skills policy and the commitment I made publicly is that those companies that take on apprenticeships and give opportunities to people will get the backing of the Government. It is totally committed to supporting British manufacturing. Manufacturing matters and because manufacturing matters, engineering matters, skills matter and apprenticeships matter."
Plans to merge three Glasgow colleges have been approved by the Scottish government to create one of the UK's largest FE institutions. The new City of Glasgow College is expected to have 50,000 students as a result of merging the Nautical Studies, Central and Metropolitan Colleges. Union leaders had warned that up to 160 staff may be made redundant, but ministers said there was a "strong expectation" that any job losses would be voluntary. Keith Brown, the minister for skills and lifelong learning, said: "The City of Glasgow College will be a significant economic boost to the city and will provide an outstanding learning experience for both students and staff." The merger is the first time three institutions have combined in Scotland.
Volunteers for posts on the board of Birmingham Metropolitan College were queueing for just 16 places. The college, formed 12 months ago from the merger of Matthew Boulton and Sutton Coldfield Colleges, chose Vij Randeniya, chief fire officer of West Midlands Fire Service, to chair the governing body. "I wanted to be part of a successful organisation, and as Birmingham Metropolitan College is the largest college in the region, I am looking forward to being part of its focus and dynamic vision for the future," he said. Other governors include representatives of Aston University, Wolverhampton University and Birmingham City Council.
Work on new pound;41 million campus at Furness College in Cumbria has begun, one of the last projects to be approved before the former Learning and Skills Council's capital budget ran out. Foundations have been dug and the steel structure is due to start rising from the site in the coming weeks, with the building due to be complete in summer 2012. It will mean a 30 per cent increase in the size of the college and will house new learning suites, business training, student social areas, a new restaurant, and hair and beauty salons. The college also intends to use the new building to increase its higher education work and broaden the range of degrees it offers.