Two more London colleges confirm merger ahead of area reviews

Hackney Community College and Tower Hamlets College have today confirmed that they will merge from August this year.

FE Week reported last month that talks had started to create a “single, larger and more sustainable college” which will see both colleges keep their individual existing campuses, names and branding.

After the decision was confirmed today, it was announced that Gerry McDonald, principal of Tower Hamlets College, will be the body’s new chief executive.

Both colleges have also agreed that a fixed-term, part-time merger adviser role will be taken up by Ian Ashman, current principal of Hackney Community College, until the end of December.

The position has been set up to “help and support the management teams in the successful implementation of the merger,” a spokesperson said.

The merger will involve a joint institution of around 17,000 students and apprentices, and 800 staff.

A college spokesperson said the new board of governors will be made up of an equal number of governors from the two existing colleges, with a new, independent chair.

The governance structure of the merged college will take on a new name and the spokesperson told FE Week: “We are currently consulting on a new name which will need to be approved by the Secretary of State ahead of the merger on August 1.”

Current Tower Hamlets College chair, Professor Martin Earwicker, and Hackney Community College chair, Tom Mautner JP, said: “This merger, a partnership of equals, brings together two very strong organisations, which play vital roles in their local communities and the wider region.

“While we will maintain the local names and identities of Hackney Community College and Tower Hamlets College, the merger will create a much stronger organisation, which will continue to meet the skills needs of local people, employers and our communities, for the foreseeable future.”

This comes ahead of the government-led London area reviews and after two other large London colleges, City and Islington College and Westminster Kingsway College, confirmed last month they would be merging.