While the area reviews focused on encouraging colleges to form closer relationships with one another, four colleges are currently exploring plans to join forces with universities.
While the University of Bolton’s plans to merge with Bury College collapsed in April, it is still pursuing a merger with Bolton College. A spokesman says that it anticipates the legal and statutory processes to be completed early next year. “All parties are energetically working to give effect to the Greater Manchester area review outcome,” he adds.
Another partnership proposed in the area reviews was a “merger or other structure” involving City College Southampton and Southampton Solent University. A spokesman for the latter says that the organisations are now jointly exploring “the potential establishment of a subsidiary company”, as part of discussions on how they could “create a stronger further education offer”.
In South London, Lambeth College has published plans for it to join forces with London South Bank University. The institutions say that they are both awaiting a decision from the Department for Education on their merger proposal.
Meanwhile, two other neighbouring institutions looking at forging “ever closer links” are the University of Central Lancashire and Preston’s College.
A range of options are on the table, according to a university spokesman. “Discussions have focused on how the university and the college, working in harness, could help to meet employer skills and workforce development requirements and other primary economic drivers in the city of Preston and across the Lancashire local enterprise partnership area.”