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Further Education: Mergers

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL2306, tabled on 5 March 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to facilitate local college mergers which (1) are in the interests of learners, (2) build financial resilience, and (3) ensure that provision serves local communities, especially in areas of disadvantage.

Answered on

19 March 2020

Further education (FE) colleges can sometimes benefit from structural change to strengthen quality of delivery for learners, financial health, or enhance their capacity to respond to local labour market needs. The College Oversight: Support and Intervention guidance (also attached), published in April 2019, sets out how structural change is delivered in the sector.

Structural reviews, led by the FE Commissioner’s team and supported by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and department officials provide a means of assessing the structural solutions for a college for the future. Reviews assess potential options against the needs of learners, the long term financial sustainability of potential solutions and consult with key local stakeholders such as local authorities to ensure their views are heard and local circumstances are taken into account.

Post-merger support is provided by the ESFA and the FE Commissioner Team to monitor colleges on their performance after mergers have completed.