Swindon College and New College have announced they are set to merge ahead of the 2020/2021 academic year.
The plans come in preparation for the construction of the town’s new Institute of Technology (IOT).
The Department of Education confirmed its approval for the planned Institute of Technology in Swindon to be realigned with the merger project.
In April, the IOT Consortium, comprising both colleges, local universities, employers and wider stakeholders, won its bid for a £21 million capital project designed to bring 1,000 new higher education places to the area by 2026.
Governors of both colleges believe the merger will bring a wide range of features and benefits for students and employers, including a “well-planned and more cohesive high-quality curriculum.”
Charlotte Mannion, chair of the governing body at New College Swindon, said, “This merger is an opportunity for our two Colleges to come together to better meet the region’s education, skills and training needs.
“Together we will be a major force shaping future learning opportunities and helping to drive the economic prosperity of the Swindon and Wiltshire area.”
Rob Beale, chairman of governors at Swindon College, added, “The coming together of our two institutions is absolutely right for Swindon, local people and employers.
“The joint strength and expertise of the two Colleges, along with the opportunities that the IoT will afford, means greater choice, enhanced skills development and improved progression opportunities for everyone – right through to the higher education level.”
The merger announcement has also been welcomed by business ambassador group Switch on to Swindon.
Chair of Switch on to Swindon Jenny Groves, said, “After the recommendation to merge from the Department for Education several years ago, it’s great that both colleges can now combine their academic talents into an outstanding Further Education provision of the future.”
Jenny added “Swindon’s focus on academic growth over the last few years, with the awarding of the Institute of Technology funding, will mean an even better and brighter pathway for students into a variety of Higher Education courses. The merger should allow both campuses to expand on their local presence, improve the cultural and academic offer for students and build a stronger identity and reputation.”
Councillor Oliver Donachie, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Place, commented, “This proposed merger by Swindon’s two colleges is great news for local businesses as the high quality curriculum on offer will ensure there is a pipeline of young people leaving the new educational establishment with the skills and qualifications our local firms need for their continued success.
“These are exciting times for post-16 education in the town with the £21m Institute of Technology on the horizon and plans for this merger announced this week. With the Royal Agricultural University also due to offer courses at the revamped Carriage Works and other universities already providing higher education opportunities, our economy is set for a significant skills boost in the years ahead.”
Pictured above: Chair of Switch on to Swindon, Jenny Groves who is backing the college merger