K College up for grabs after ‘failed merger’

Providers have been invited to open days to find out about taking on the business of a struggling college being broken up following a failed merger.

Two events will be held at K College, in Kent, for organisations looking to take over its provision.

The possible break-up of provision comes after the college, which was formed of a merger between West Kent College and South Kent College in 2010, ran into debts of £6m and was issued with a notice of concern by the Skills Funding Agency.

The college’s new principal, Phil Frier, later conceded the merger hadn’t worked and proposed splitting the college in two.

He suggested one half should incorporate the Dover and Folkstone campuses, while the other comprised Ashford, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.

The proposal was approved by Skills Minister Matthew Hancock after an independent review which took into account the needs of the area K College serves.

The agency said two open days had been organised for providers to find out more about taking on the college business. Two of the college’s five campuses will host the open days, with the first at the college’s Tonbridge site on May 22 before a second event at its Folkestone site the following day.

An agency spokesperson said: “Along with the Education Funding Agency, we are looking to commission education and training provision currently delivered by K College across its five campuses.

“This is an opportunity for interested parties to find out more about the commissioning process and attend a Q&A session.”

They added: “The Higher Education Funding Council for England will also be inviting tenders for the College’s higher education provision.”

The college is still recruiting for the next academic year, starting in September and will continue to offer courses offered in line with the college plan until July next year, subject to learner numbers.

A prospectus providing more information about the college’s provision would be published before the open days.

Email kopenday@skillsfundingagency.bis.gov.uk for more details.