Lack of logic over mad mergers

8th June 2001 at 01:00
There seemed a glimmer of hope for saner provision of further education in the London Borough of Ealing in George Low's column (FE Focus, May 18). It said the sinking ship "SS Everywhere Total Chaos" might be rescued by a partnership between Thames Valley University and Ealing Council.

TVU seems to have stabilised after its own bout of mad managerialism. The Ealing link would have given the borough a chance to make atonement for the destruction it started long before incorporation when it merged four institutions, each with decades of separate service to the local community; called it "new" and parachuted in the incompetents who brought the whole vessel below its Plimsoll line.

Many of them have moved on to do the same to other sectors of further education. The alternative that George Low reported was a merger which "would create one of the largest FE colleges in London". This week we read of the decision.

The Ealing Council link was a non-starter. The chair of governors eveals in a letter that she is an Ealing councillor who is surprised that the issue of Ealing being involved "is assuming a national prominence" because "it has never to my knowledge been discussed on Ealing Council".

If an Ealing councillor cannot bring a matter like this before Ealing Council even for discussion, even if it were rejected, then who can?

Those who have followed the disaster will recall the FEFC conclusion was that part of the collapse of the institution was due to an ambitious merger attempt which would have created one of the largest colleges in west London. The solution of the governors? A merger to create one of the largest colleges in west London!

Their own mass resignation might have been less shame-faced. And, before they went, perhaps they could have explained why neighbouring colleges, Uxbridge and West Thames, which never went in for mad mergeritis, seem to be stable and thriving?

Dave Nicholson 21 Albert Street Windsor, Berkshire

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