Long-awaited three-college Hampshire merger gets over the line

Future of City College Southampton secured as it joins Fareham and Eastleigh College

Future of City College Southampton secured as it joins Fareham and Eastleigh College

A three-way merger that aims to secure the future of a troubled Southampton college has finally got over the line.

City College Southampton has today officially merged with Eastleigh College and Fareham College to create the South Hampshire College Group (SHCG).

The merger, given the green light by the Department for Education, will combine the three colleges’ student numbers to over 14,000 learners and a total combined turnover of over £50 million.

Andrew Kaye, principal of the former Fareham College, will take the helm and become chief executive of SHCG.

The two other principals – Martin Sim of City College Southampton and Paul Cox of Eastleigh College – will stand down. 

Cox will leave to take up a “new private sector leadership role”. He has been at Eastleigh College since 2017, and principal since late 2019.

Sim, interim principal at City College Southampton, will return to his deputy FE Commissioner role.

Kaye said: “This merger has created a single, financially strong, responsive and ambitious FE organisation to serve the education and training needs of South Hampshire.

“We will pool all our resources and expertise to enhance the range and quality of courses in this region.”

City College Southampton was rated ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted last year, as was Eastleigh College which is also yet to file accounts for 2022.

Fareham College is currently judged ‘outstanding’ although it hasn’t been inspected since 2017.

Multiple previous merger attempts involving City College Southampton – one of which included Eastleigh College – have been abandoned since 2016 when the FE Commissioner said City College Southampton was not sustainable as a standalone college.

City College Southampton has since received around £12 million in bailout funding from the DfE to stay afloat.

Chair of the new board of governors at SHCG, Sandra Prail, who is also a DfE national leader of governance, said: “We are tremendously excited to be at the helm of the new SHCG, and our board members look forward to contributing their expertise and skills from many industry sectors into the new venture.”

Geraint Davies, former chair of City College Southampton, added: “The merger will create a college for the future and we are proud to have a place in it.  

“SHCG will produce skilled people to join South Hampshire’s workforce and contribute to the success of the economic landscape. We are looking forward to the future.”

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