Ninth UTC closure announced

Another university technical college will close next year, taking the total to nine.

UTC@Harbourside, based in Newhaven in East Sussex, has announced it will close in August 2019 after failing to recruit enough pupils to become “financially stable”.

The announcement comes ahead of the UTC’s first Ofsted report, which is due out on Wednesday.

The college, a 14-to-19 institution with a vocational focus, opened in 2015 and planned to recruit up to 650 pupils. The school had just 141 pupils on roll in 2016-17.

According to the UTC, the request from governors for permission to close the institution next year was approved by ministers last week.

“The UTC has not been able to recruit enough students to become financially stable and to deliver fully on its educational vision. The governors decided that the best way forward is to propose termination of its agreement with the Department for Education. The UTC was inspected by Ofsted last month and the report is due to be published on Wednesday July 4,” it said in a statement.

“This has been a very difficult and hugely disappointing decision for the governors to make. They recognise that this announcement will cause concern to students, staff and parents. Their primary concern is the welfare and education of students currently attending the UTC and those who have applied to join from September, and the decision was taken at the earliest opportunity in the light of the upcoming summer break.”

The UTC is “already in discussions with the relevant local authorities to secure alternative places for the students who had accepted an offer to join us in September”.

“They are working closely with parents, students, schools and the local authorities to do all we can to assist this. There will be opportunities for students to meet with local authority advisers and UTC staff before the summer break,” a spokesperson said.

The college will remain open and “fully committed” to ensuring current year 10 and 12 pupils successfully complete their courses by next July, they added.

The UTC model has faced substantial problems since its inception in 2010. Many have struggled financially after failing to attract the right number of pupils.

In January, it was revealed that UTC@Harbourside was one of three UTCs to have agreed to pay back over £500,000 to the government after over-estimating pupil numbers.