East London ‘super college’ merger plan for Tower Hamlets and Hackney colleges

Poplar campus of Tower Hamlets College

Poplar campus of Tower Hamlets College - Credit: Archant

Public consultations begin this week on creating a ‘super college’ for 17,000 east London students by merging Tower Hamlets and Hackney Community colleges.

Poplar campus of Tower Hamlets College

Poplar campus of Tower Hamlets College - Credit: Archant

The merger is in the face of tough cuts to education budgets forced on them by Whitehall.

Both colleges in the two neighbouring London boroughs will keep their campuses, Tower Hamlets at Poplar and Stepney and Hackney Community at Shoreditch, with the amalgamation set for August.

Tower Hamlets alone is facing a £1.2 million deficit—but the new ‘super college’ with a staff of 800 is set to have a combined turnover of £40m in financial resources.

Its new board of governors is to have an equal number from the two existing colleges, with a new independent chair.

Poplar campus of Tower Hamlets College

Poplar campus of Tower Hamlets College - Credit: Archant

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Tower Hamlets Board of Governors chair Martin Earwicker said: “Both colleges have been concerned with ensuring we’re able to continue providing our communities with high quality further education.”

The college was at the forefront of last October’s rally and lobby in Parliament of all London Further Education establishments including Hackney Community over the government’s education cuts.

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Principal Gerry McDonald slammed the cuts when he addressed MPs.

He said at the time: “The government is being short-sighted not investing in young people and their future.

“We’ve not been successful persuading them to invest in Further Education—that means stepping up our lobbying.”

The merger proposal follows a detailed exercise carried out by an independent body, which has led to the “partnership of equals” agreement.

Hackney Community’s chair Tom Mautner said: “We will be in a good position through this merger to achieve our shared vision of maintaining wide-ranging further education. The synergy between the two colleges is strong.”

The August 1 deadline for merging leaves it enough time to be operational for the start of the new academic year in September.

But one of the corporate college structures must first ‘dissolve’—it is proposed that Hackney Community College dissolves.

Comments are being invited by March 21 on the dissolution of Hackney and suggestions for a name for the new ‘super college’, emailed to mergerconsultation@tower.ac.uk or to consultation@hackney.ac.uk.

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