Proposed merger could see Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft colleges form a single institution

Lowestoft Sixth Form College.

Lowestoft Sixth Form College. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Three of the region's biggest colleges have today unveiled plans to merge to create a single institution.

Great Yarmouth College.

Great Yarmouth College. - Credit: Supplied

The proposals would see Great Yarmouth College, Lowestoft College and Lowestoft Sixth Form College join together, under the combined name of East Coast Colleges Group.

Each campus would remain, and would maintain its own name, as well as current specialisms. The plans follow a six-month pilot project and extensive discussions between the institutions about forging closer ties.

The colleges say the proposed merger - which would start on August 1 - would allow them to better withstand budget reductions, while maintaining a wide range of courses and increasing the numbers of people taking on apprenticeships.

Andrew Thomson, chairman of the shadow board of governing bodies from the three colleges, said: 'Our shared aim is to preserve and expand the excellent academic offer of Lowestoft Sixth Form College and the much-valued technical and professional education and training of both Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Colleges.

Lowestoft College.

Lowestoft College. - Credit: Archant

'In the face of significant reductions in public sector funding, we have managed the impact of budget cuts to date, but it is clear that pressure on funding is likely to increase.'

'We want to offer Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth a forward-thinking plan that addresses the needs of local students, parents and employers, and which will act as a catalyst for local and regional economic prosperity,' Mr Thomson added.

Most Read

The courses on offer will remain the same as planned at all three colleges for both current students and prospective students enrolling in September 2016. The total number of students currently studying at the colleges is close to 8,000.

Mark Pendlington, Chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: 'We are committed to providing capital investment to ensure the best facilities are available to support both students and the local economy.

'Together, let's help shape the best possible future for our colleges, and for all those who depend on them for a great future.'

Consultation on the plans starts today and will last until February 19. Further details, and a form to submit responses, is available at www.eccolleges.co.uk. Alternatively responses can be emailed to eccg@fouragency.co.uk or posted to: East Coast Colleges Group Consultation, C/O FOUR Agency, Hill House, 20 Hill House Road, Norwich, Norfolk.

? For more reaction, pick up today's EDP.

? What do you think? Email: joe.randlesome@archant.co.uk