NCG and Northumberland College merger collapses

Plans for a merger between the  NCG (formerly Newcastle College Group) and Northumberland College have collapsed.

The Northumberland College Corporation met last night and agreed to “rescind” the decision it made on the July 13 to merge with NCG, which offered an investment of £25 million over the next four years.

However, Northumberland College Corporation’s said the merger proposal “had materially changed and a merger with NCG no longer represented the best solution” for students, staff, stakeholders and the community.

They also say they received a letter from John Hayes, the minister for further education, skills and lifelong learning, on Tuesday and the “views he expressed also formed a major part of the decision” made by the Corporation.

Northumberland College Corporation’s board will now consider other alternative options to secure the future of the college.

Chris Todd, principal of Northumberland College said: “I firmly believe that the Corporation have the interests of  learners and the local community at heart.

“This decision will allow the college to move forward positively, creating a solution that will better meet the needs of students, staff, stakeholders and the local community.

“Students, staff and stakeholders did not want this merger to happen.

“The Corporation have listened to these concerns and have made the right choice in the interests of Northumberland.”

Dame Jackie Fisher, chief executive of NCG, said “We are disappointed Northumberland College has rejected our merger proposal.

“We remain committed to supporting learners in the North East and we are considering an alternative strategy to give learners in the County the opportunity to gain new skills in an up-to-date, clean, pleasant and safe environment.”

NCG’s investment plans included updating Northumberland College’s Ashington site and a new campus at Cramlington.

They also planned to replace the agricultural training facilities at Kirkley Hall and create modern job-focused teaching facilities on a real working farm.

Dame Fisher said: “NCG made a generous merger offer to Northumberland College. The Governors of Northumberland decided to reject our offer. We cannot comment on their reasons for doing so.”

However, Mr Todd added: “Northumberland College has a strong business plan going forward and we have demonstrated substantial improvement over the last twelve months.

“This upward trend will continue and I fully expect the college to emerge from this process fighting fit and ready for the challenges that the future will undoubtedly bring.

“Northumberland College is no longer in a desperate situation. The college is stronger than ever, both financially, but also in terms of the quality of its provision.

“Moving forward, the Corporation are keen to build on the firm platform that has been established, creating a progressive college rooted at the heart of the local
community.”