College governors vote for merger
SOUTH Kent College has voted to go ahead with a merger.
The college, which has branches in Folkestone, Dover and Ashford, will join with West Kent College, which is based in Tonbridge.
South Kent College principal Monica Box said: “We very much welcome this prompt decision that will secure the future of South Kent College.
“Raising standards at this college is our top priority and a merger with West Kent will help us drive up the quality of service we offer to our learners.”
College governors, at a meeting in June, decided to explore the possibility of merging with either West Kent or Sussex Downs, following the recommendations of a review, commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council Kent and Medway.
At the time, the chair of governors and Kent county councillor Bryan Cope said the board aimed to move swiftly to find the best merger partner. Their meeting on Monday was the earliest they could make their decision.
Mrs Box said it was a difficult choice for governors because both Sussex Downs and West Kent had so much to offer.
Mrs Box said: “The curriculum offered by West Kent and South Kent will complement each other, yet allow for economies of scale that will help improve this college’s finances.
“There is already a firm foundation for collaboration between our colleges, and this decision builds on those partnership links to the benefit of all our learners.
“We were determined that our decision would preserve the strong local identity of further education provision in the three towns that the college currently covers.”
Final approval for the merger rests with the Secretary of State and South Kent College hopes this would be granted in spring 2009. It is intended that the merger will take effect from August 1, 2009.