THE merger of two colleges looks set to go ahead.
The governing bodies of South Downs College and Havant Sixth Form College have agreed in principle to the two institutions merging on August 1, 2017.
It comes as Havant has appointed Mike Gaston, the head of South Downs, as interim principal following the retirement of John McDougall this month.
Mr Gaston told The News: ‘They have agreed in principle we will continue along the proposed merging of the colleges by August 1, 2017.
‘The next stage is due diligence, which will be carried out on both colleges.’
He said officials would now look at the ‘business plan, curriculum and finances’ to ensure a merged college was created that ‘met the needs of stakeholders in the community in the future’.
And he added: ‘For the next two years A-levels will continue at both sites.
‘It’s really important that parents and students are aware of that.
‘There’s no change to their son or daughter’s programme of study or indeed in the future for those starting in either September 2016 or 2017.’
He said the colleges remain ‘committed’ to delivering the courses at students’ chosen campus.
He said parents, students and local businesses would be kept informed throughout the merger process.
He said they want to be ‘open and transparent’, adding: ‘We are looking at a college merger microsite that both colleges will use to make sure students, parents and businesses can keep up-to-date on how the merger is progressing.’
Mr Gaston said he would be holding open meetings with stakeholders.
A joint meeting took place in early May between the governors of the two colleges.
It recognised the ‘significant advantages’ to students of the merger, as well as more opportunities for business and community partnerships.
Officials say the proposed merger will create opportunities for a ‘21st century education’.
Meanwhile, staff at South Downs College went on strike last month over proposed changes to their contracts.
But further industrial action was averted after the college offered workers a better deal.
The conciliation service Acas brokered the deal with the college and union, leading to 91 per cent of members voting to agree to it.