Merger a drop in the ocean

13th October 2006 at 01:00
In your editorial (FE Focus, September 22) you mention the dangers of mergers creating very large colleges, and say the "only criteria should be whether students and the wider population benefit".

The basis of the Manchester FE review is to address the needs of students better. Both colleges perform well, but with insufficient collaborative planning between them, different approaches to meeting the needs of 16 to 19-year-olds in the city and little geographical or curriculum coherence in what they offer, some parts of the city are not well served by FE provision.

You argue for a federal form of organisation, which is what the review report recommends. The proposed merged college would have a single board of governors and central services, but would have federal organisation, with local centres responsive to the needs of local students and employers.

Finally, you say there is room in a city like Manchester for more than one FE college. There are now four FE institutions funded by the Learning and Skills Council in the city, and 16 more in adjoining local authority areas.

So a merger between Mancat and City College would not seriously reduce the number of institutions.

Elaine Bowker

Area director

Greater Manchester LSC

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