North Lindsey College announces plan to merge with Doncaster College

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 11 May 2017

SCUNTHORPE'S North Lindsey College is expected to merge with Doncaster College later this year.

The merger will bring together around 14,000 students in the region and more than 1,300 lecturers and other staff.

It has been revealed that informal talks between the two colleges have been ongoing since last year, ahead of detailed consultations this summer.

At this stage neither side is talking about job losses.

Anne Tyrrell, the principal at North Lindsey College since 2012, stressed: "The merger is about growth and investment and new opportunities – not savings.

"Serving our local community will always be a priority and we will continue to deliver skills and training locally.

"A driving principle is that both colleges retain their individual names and identity meaning that North Lindsey College will continue to exist and the combined college will strengthen opportunities across both localities.

"There will be no immediate changes for staff and students at either college; current courses will continue and prospective students should apply for the courses in the normal way."

Andy Tuscher, the chairman of the governing body, said: "This merger would ensure continued learning provision for our students whilst establishing a major regional education provider.

"By reaching beyond the usual geographical boundaries of our immediate local areas, we have an opportunity to create an educational hub that links our students and staff with partners and employers from the Sheffield City region to the Humber.

"Both colleges are focused on the learning journeys of our students as they move towards employment: as equal partners in a merged college, we can create new opportunities, flexibility and capacity behind a skills infrastructure that supports local delivery while building on economic connections across this east-west corridor – and act as a catalyst for future sustainable economic development."

Paul Pascoe, his opposite number at Doncaster College (pictured below), said: "We believe that a strong partnership with another educational organisation is the future for Doncaster College. The vision, values and ethos of North Lindsey College are very close to our own.

"A merger would allow both colleges to preserve their distinctiveness, yet come together under one banner, collaborating to build on current strengths and ensuring that sustainable, high quality teaching and learning provision continues into the future across both localities."

Trade unions representing staff at the two campuses and students have now been brought into the talks.

A spokesman for the North Lindsey branch of the University and College Union said: "UCU is looking forward to working with the principal and senior leadership team on this exciting and forward thinking project, merging two of the regions colleges.

"The merger will provide a wider range of opportunities for study within the area and will allow North Lindsey to continue to serve the wider community; all ensuring a qualified and ambitious workforce to enhance local businesses and the local economy."

Unison has pledged to prioritise job security and protection of pensions, pay terms and condition.

Regional organiser Rianne Johnson said: "At the moment it is not clear what the proposed merger would mean for the curriculum, for staff jobs, or if students will have to travel outside Scunthorpe.

"We will also be aiming to prevent any further privatisation. Unison is committed to campaigning for a properly funded further education sector that is accessible to all the people of North Lincolnshire."

But Shaun Schwgler, 20, an engineering student at Scunthorpe, said: "A merger with Doncaster College is a really exciting opportunity. It would offer students at North Lindsey College, like me, so many more opportunities, such as apprenticeships and work experience.

"The senior leadership team here have been great at keeping the student council updated and allowed us to be part of the conversations and finding out what is in our best interest."

North Lindsey College was opened on the Kingsway in 1953 and has trained generations of the town's steelworkers.

In the past four years more than £16 million has been invested in upgrading the facilities.

Doncaster is the newer of the two sites, having opened the present hub 11 years ago.

The final decision on the merger will rest with the respective governing boards and the Secretary of State for Education.

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