Merger of colleges would ‘secure ongoing provision of teaching’ in Huntingdon

Huntingdonshire Regional College

Huntingdonshire Regional College - Credit: Archant

A review is taking place which could result in a merger between two of the county’s colleges in the wake of financial pressures and a poor Ofsted inspection.

Huntingdonshire Regional College (HRC) is proposing to dissolve and become part of

Cambridge Regional College (CRC) as part of a post-16 education review of Cambridgeshire by the Department of Education, which is due to finish at the end of this month.

The plans have been revealed just months after a working partnership began between the two colleges to improve skills in the area.

In a report handed to members of Huntingdonshire District Council, it was noted: “Following the Ofsted grade 4 [inadequate] inspection of HRC and the deteriorating financial position at the college the collaboration with CRC, which has already started, and the proposed merger will secure the ongoing provision of teaching and learning at Huntingdon going forwards.

“HRC’s financial position is weak and without support can potentially have solvency/liquidity issues in the short-term future.”

Currently, both colleges are putting together a three-year business plan with a target date for the merger to take place on August 1.

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If the merger is given the go-ahead, teaching and learning is likely continue at the California Road college under the name of Cambridge Regional College – Huntingdon campus.

“Without this collaboration and merger with CRC, the ongoing viability of a stand-alone HRC was not certain and so delivery of this merger will significantly reduce the risk of teaching and learning being removed from Huntingdon,” the report added.

As a part of the proposal, CRC principal and chief executive Mark Robertson will continue to oversee the Cambridge-based institution, with deputy principal Mark Jones dedicated to supporting HRC.

Mr Robertson said: “The two colleges have a lot to offer individually, and together will bring increased benefits and opportunities for students and employers, with a particular emphasis on providing the key skills the region’s employers need.

“Cambridge Regional College is a very successful college with an excellent reputation and the governing body of HRC believes a merger would put HRC students in a very strong position for the future.”

If the government review recommends the merger, the colleges will begin a consultation period from April 1, seeking views from students, parents, employers and the community.