A new super college has been created in Birmingham to serve 25,000 students.
South Birmingham College and City College Birmingham have merged to form one of the biggest further education institutions in the country.
The newly-formed group will be known as South and City College after the merger was given the green light by Education Secretary Michael Gove. Bosses say the college will help boost Birmingham’s economy by helping more people into education, as well as training them for the workplace.
It will have eight campuses across the city, including Hall Green, Balsall Heath, and two centres in Digbeth. A multi-million pound refurbishment programme is also under way, with £3 million set to be spent on revamping the former City College site on Soho Road, Handsworth.
South and City College will have a 1,200-strong workforce pooled from both colleges. This comes after a total of 77 staff took voluntary redundancy in the run-up to the merger. New chief Mike Hopkins – former head of South Birmingham College – insisted the merger would safeguard staff in the future.
Mr Hopkins said: “The merger is very reassuring news for students as well as staff at the college, offering a secure future for both while at the same time providing an even greater range of high quality courses and training opportunities.’’
South Birmingham College and City College Birmingham had previously teamed up to offer shared courses and jointly run a site in the Bordesley Green area of the city.
The merger – which was first discussed more than 15 years ago – was given the go-ahead on July 19.
Mr Hopkins said “significant financial issues” at City College Birmingham had meant the college could no longer have continued to operate alone.
He said: “You have to remember that this was largely brought about by the financial issues at City College Birmingham. What we set about to do was bring this about with no compulsory redundancies, and we have done that.
"Everyone who wanted to remain to be part of the new college will remain, and no-one will lose pay as a result of the merger.”
Work is under way on the former City College Birmingham sites in Handsworth, Tyseley, Bordesley Green, Ladywood and Golden Hillock. This follows a £2.5 million investment across South Birmingham sites in Hall Green, Balsall Heath and Digbeth, which was completed last summer.
Subjects taught at the new college include motor vehicle repair, construction, care and media. Mr Hopkins said it will be “business as usual” for returning and new students between now and September.
“We will be a very big college, but it isn’t about being big, it’s about the service you give to students. The key thing for us is that it isn’t about just education and training per se, but getting people work-ready and giving them the skills to help give the economy a boost.’’