Great Yarmouth College and Lowestoft College merger proposals

Entrance to Great Yarmouth College
Image caption Both colleges have annual budgets of about £14m

Two further education colleges in Norfolk and Suffolk are looking at proposals to merge.

The principals and governors at Great Yarmouth College and Lowestoft College said the towns already run many similar courses serving local industries.

The options include more collaboration on courses, having a joint management team or a full merger.

The final decisions will be made by the two colleges' governing boards.

The colleges, which each have annual budgets of about £14m, said they need to look at how far they will collaborate before they can predict what it means for staffing levels.

Simon Summers, principal at Lowestoft, said: "The main driver for these discussions is to improve the quality of learning, but we do need to bear in mind the changes and reductions in further education funding and how we can work together within that.

Assuring the future

"Both colleges are developing their energy and engineering offering and the courses are expensive to set up, so collaboration gives us the chance to offer a greater range of courses that will support local industry."

Penny Wycherley, principal at Great Yarmouth, said: "We've already started a programme in marine engineering and energy and students go to both campuses and we bus them between the two.

"What we're looking at is trying to widen the courses and training that we offer both within the colleges and at employers' premises.

"Staff are worried, but what I hope they will see is that this assures the long-term future of both colleges."

In the event of a full merger, the colleges would be run by a joint corporation, but each college would retain its own name.

Governors at both colleges will meet next month and there will be a further period of consultation with staff before a final decision is announced.

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