Merger consultation sets out Institute of Technology ambitions

Merger consultation sets out Institute of Technology ambitions

Two central London colleges have laid out their ambitions to become an Institute of Technology (IoT), as consultation opens on a possible merger.

In a joint proposal sent out by City and Islington College and Westminster Kingsway College, the two colleges outline a number of collaboration models.

These include developing their “offer of the highest quality” intermediate and higher level technical and professional training, which would put them “in a unique position to become an Institute of Technology at the heart of London”.

Collaboration, the proposal outlines, would enable them “to become recognised as the ‘go-to’ place for technical and professional training in London and the South East”.

Andy Wilson, principal of Westminster Kingsway College, which received a grade two Ofsted rating when it was last inspected in 2011, said: “We’re trying to create a college that employers and students see as the place to go for higher level technical qualifications.

“If there was the opportunity for us to be recognised for that type of work”, he added, “it fits in with our aspirations”.

IoTs are part of the government’s plan to address the UK’s skills shortage and close the productivity gap. First outlined in the government’s Productivity Plan, launched in July, they will have a specific focus on delivering high-standard, high-level professional and technical training.

The government expects there to be one IoT per local enterprise partnership, according to its guidance on the area reviews of post-16 education. The steering group for each area review is expected to consider the case for an IoT in its area, and whether any existing colleges could become one.

The City and Islington College and Westminster Kingsway College consultation follows on from the announcement, covered by FE Week in July, that the two colleges were exploring working more closely together.

Speaking to FE Week at the time of the announcement, Sir Frank McLoughlin, principal of City and Islington College, which received a grade one Ofsted rating when it was last inspected in 2008, said: “This is nothing to do with survival or cost cutting, it’s about ambition.”

According to a spokesperson for City and Islington College, the colleges were consulting with staff, local and regional authorities, suppliers, funders, colleges, banks and other organisations they have relationships with.

Respondents to the consultation, which is available on feweek.co.uk, are asked for their views on the benefits of collaboration between the two colleges, what the strengths of the two colleges are and what form of collaboration they would like to see — from loose collaboration, federation or full merger. The consultation, which was sent out on October 2, closes on November 6.