TWO colleges have taken another step forward towards their merger.
Havant Sixth Form College has appointed Mike Gaston as interim principal following the pending retirement of John McDougall in July.
Mr Gaston will continue as principal and chief executive of South Downs College as the two colleges prepare merging.
The merger is due to take place on August 1 next year.
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.
Mike Bateman, chair of governors at Havant, said: ‘There was overwhelming support from the governing body for a merger with South Downs College.
‘We were particularly impressed by the quality of the service it offers its students and its dynamic entrepreneurial vision which equates closely to the values of Havant Sixth Form College and our exceptional student outcomes.’
Stephenie Linham, chairwoman of governors at South Downs, said: ‘We passionately believe that the merger will bring many benefits to the people of both communities.
‘It will mean a stronger and broader range of educational opportunities and an increased financial capability to undertake long-term planning and development to better reflect 21st century education.’
The merged college will provide quality teaching and learning and personalised courses, say officials.
There will be industry expertise integrated into all courses and programmes.
Mr Gaston said: ‘Both colleges are respected locally and regionally for their track record of outstanding provision.
‘This proposal will allow us to build upon the existing strengths and specialisms of both organisations in order to strengthen the educational opportunities for students, supported by employer demand and the guidance of our stakeholders.’
And he added: ‘I would like to reinforce the message to students commencing in September 2016, that we will honour all available courses and programmes for the duration of study at their chosen site.’