City College has announced it is planning to merge with Worthing-based Northbrook College to create a new Regional Institute of Arts and Technology.
The news comes after a review of the county’s 11 further education colleges, which aimed to identify opportunities for mergers and closures.
The new institute will continue to keep campuses across Brighton, Shoreham and Worthing but be led by a central executive team and governing body.
The Pelham Street campus will concentrate on creative, digital and IT, while its new east Brighton site will concentrate on construction, as already planned.
It will teach around 3,500 16-18 year old students, 7,500 adults 1,000 undergraduates and more than 800 apprentices, generating an income of circa £40 Million.
The colleges say they intend to offer high quality vocational, professional and technical routes into employment, from foundation to technician and associate professional level, in response to identified economic priorities of Greater Brighton and Sussex
A full consultation will take place later in the year in which staff, students and the local community will be asked for their views.
Sue Dare, Principal of Northbrook College said: “”For me this is all about creating an organisation with the capacity to invest in a broad curriculum offer establishing a sound educational footing of mathematics, English and employability skills for all our students while at the same time developing a suite of vocational specialisms up to and including degree level courses.
Nick Juba, CEO of City College Brighton said: “The new institute will provide a genuine alternative to A-levels and university and access to a wide range of professional and technical qualifications to degree level.
“It will focus on giving our students the skills they need find jobs and careers across the city region and beyond. That’s what we do best and it’s what will make the new institute different.”
A new Greater Brighton Workforce Development Company – a joint venture between City College and Northbrook – will be established that will provide a ‘one stop shop’ for employers in the region to address a range of training and workforce development needs. ”
Julie Nerney Chair of Governors at City College Brighton said: “The Institute will serve the Greater Brighton City region – a real and functional economic area with a population of 677,000 and 283,000 jobs.
“Our aim is to ensure a better alignment between the supply of skills and demand from the local labour market.”
Ian Lowrie, Chair of Northbrook College Sussex said: “The Greater Brighton & Sussex Institute of Arts & Technology will be the engine room of the local economy and will play a central role in delivering against the devolution prospectus.
“Alongside providing overall leadership for the skills and apprenticeships agenda across Worthing, Shoreham and Brighton, the new organisation will make significant contributions to smart specialisation in the creative, digital and IT cluster as well as bridging the gap between cultural, arts and heritage organisations.”
The announcement comes after a tumultuous few years for City College. Its grand plans for a £79m redevelopment of the Pelham Street campus stalled amid job losses, course closures and rumours of cash flow problems.
In February last year, principal Lynn Thackway quit, citing a family illness. An interim head with a reputation for troubleshooting, Monica Box, then stepped in until the appointment of new principal Sharon Collett, who took up her post late last year, alongside new chief executive Nick Juba.