Merger of two London colleges agreed

Two London colleges have finally agreed to merge, more than 18 months after the link between them was first proposed.

The College of North West London and City of Westminster College will join forces this summer to become United Colleges Group.

The decision was taken at their individual corporation meetings on May 17 and 24 respectively, after independent due diligence reports and responses from the consultation period were approved.

The colleges are expected to finalise the legal merger on August 1, 2017, though this is currently subject to final approval from education secretary Justine Greening.

In 2016, City of Westminster College took part in the central London area review, while the College of North West London was in the west London review. The merger was recommended through both reviews.

City of Westminster College and the College of North West London were both rated ‘good’ by Ofsted, in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

As part of the merger plans, a shadow board, led by chair designate Tony Johnston, has also been approved, and arrangements to appoint members are in progress.

Mr Johnston served on the College of North West London Corporation for two years, including as chair for the past four months. Outside the college, he is managing director of Engage Media Training.

He said: “Both college corporations are satisfied that the merger is the best strategic approach to securing a successful future.

“The formation of the new group places us in the best position to deliver outstanding technical, academic and vocational education, and serve the needs of employers and the communities of Westminster, Brent and the wider region.”

The college corporations jointly appointed Keith Cowell, who has served as principal and chief executive of City of Westminster College for nine years, as chief executive officer designate of the new institution.

Andy Cole, principal and chief executive of The College of North West London since January 2014 and the Association of Colleges WorldSkills champion for London, will take up the role of group principal designate.

Mr Cowell and Mr Cole will continue in their existing roles alongside their additional responsibilities until the proposed merger in August 2017, when they will take up their new positions in full.

Speaking of his new appointment, Mr Cowell said: “I believe the future of both colleges are better together and we have worked hard to ensure that as a combined organisation we have a vision to deliver the highest quality education and training opportunities for students and employers across west and central London, and beyond.”

Mr Cole added: “With growing recognition of the importance of vocational skills and apprenticeships to the future of our economy, this is an exciting time for the colleges to be coming together.

“Our mutual strengths and quality of provision mean the new merged college will present an excellent training proposition to employers and be a first-choice destination for individual students.”

A full response from the consultation process has been produced and is available from the College of North West London website and on the City of Westminster College website.

Individuals who submitted a written response during the consultation process will also receive a personal reply.

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