Two colleges with close links to Plymouth University have merged to create a centre offering outstanding further and higher education to students across Somerset.
Following an extensive consultation process, the governors of both Bridgwater College and Somerset College have approved plans to establish a new college which will bring together more than 26,000 students and 1,500 staff across a wide range of further and higher education courses.
These include Plymouth University courses in education, business, health, engineering, food technology and agriculture which are taught from the two sites.
The merger came into effect on June 14, 2016 and although the merged college will continue to operate under the two existing college names for the next few months, it is planned that it will become an institution with a single name in the near future.
Mike Robbins, Principal of Bridgwater College and designate principal of the merged college, said:
“The merger with Somerset College fully supports our vision to become a world class education and training organisation. Combining the current strengths of both organisations will help us to create a college with one of the widest choices of academic, professional and technical education and training opportunities in the South West. It will also establish a more financially resilient college with the resources to invest in outstanding facilities and centres of excellence in a range of academic and occupational areas across main centres in Bridgwater, Cannington and Taunton, including a new university centre for Somerset.”
Rachel Davies, Principal and CEO of Somerset College, added:
“I am delighted that by combining, we have established a secure platform on which to build Somerset’s future, making the most of our strengths and positioning the college to embrace opportunities that support the growth of skills and learning, while meeting the employment needs of our local communities. Significantly this merger is also the catalyst needed for university provision in Somerset. The combined colleges with their large university student body, expertise experience and facilities will establish Somerset’s position as an appealing destination.”
Plymouth University currently has partnerships with more than 20 institutions in the South West and beyond, enabling students to enrol for over 400 higher education courses at their local college or education centre.
Mark Stone, Head of UK Academic Partnerships at Plymouth University, said:
"We have been working closely with the two colleges throughout this process and are delighted the merger has now been confirmed. It will combine the many strengths of two long standing centres of excellent education, and enable us to continue delivering high quality courses and training to students in this part of Somerset.”