The two institutions will come together behind the scenes – maintaining their existing locations, names and branding. Tower Hamlets College has campuses at Poplar and Stepney while Hackney has a Shoreditch outpost.
The aim is to create a single unit that can withstand central Government cuts and will have under its umbrella 17,000 students and apprentices, 800 staff and a combined turnover of around £40million.
Chairman of THC’s Board of Governors Martin Earwicker said: “Throughout, both corporations have been concerned with ensuring that we are able to continue to provide our communities with access to high quality further education. This merger will enable us to continue to do so for many years.”
THC has a strong relationship with the Wharf with programmes run in association with KPMG, Thomson Reuters, EY and Canary Wharf Group.
The new Board of Governors will be made up of an equal number of governors from the two colleges, with a new, independent chair and under a new name, yet to be chosen.
The aim, say the colleges, will be to “increase opportunities for student progression, for developing existing and new specialisms, and for sharing best practice”.
Tom Mautner, chairman of Hackney Community College’s Board of Governors, said:
“The synergy between the two colleges is very strong, with shared values and ambition, and I am confident of a successful future for the newly-merged organisation.”
The merger will officially take place on August 1, in time for the new academic year and comes against a climate of straitened spending by central Government.
Chancellor George Osborne trimmed grants by 14% in the last Parliament but pulled back from wielding a sharper scythe in November’s spending review. More than 125 principals had written to the Prime Minister saying that further cuts would tip them “over the precipice”.
FE is not protected in the same way as schools and has less of a lobbying voice in Westminster with its combination of vocational and less understood academic qualifications creating confusion as to their specific purpose.
However, they will have a greater role delivering the Government’s apprenticeship programme for 16- to 19-year-olds.
The Chancellor said in November: “Colleges currently receive approximately a third of apprenticeship spending. Key providers, including colleges, will be able to benefit from the significant increase in apprenticeship spending of almost £900million by 2019-20.”
A public consultation on the changes will take place at the Poplar campus on Wednesday, February 24, at 6.30pm.
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