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Stourbridge College to close this summer

By Richard Guttridge | Stourbridge | Education | Published:

Stourbridge College will close this summer as part of a cost-cutting plan, it has been announced.

Stourbridge College

The Hagley Road college, which has undergone major investment over recent years, will be sold off and students moved to Dudley and Halesowen from September following a review.

The cash-strapped Birmingham Metropolitan College (BMet), which runs the Stourbridge site, said the decision had "not been taken lightly".

BMet principal and chief executive, Cliff Hall, added: “Stourbridge College is performing really well and offers fantastic post-16 vocational options for students. I am proud of all we have achieved since we took over in 2013.

“However, the proposals submitted by Dudley College of Technology and Halesowen College were compelling and the BMet board of governors has concluded that this change is in the best interests of our learners both in the Black Country and Birmingham.

“The decision has been made with the full support of the FE Commissioner and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

“We will now enter into detailed discussions with both Dudley and Halesowen on the practicalities of these arrangements. We will also undertake detailed consultation with our own staff.

"Our priorities will be to work in the best interests of learners, to protect provision and to ensure we provide them with clear pathways for the future. Alongside this we will be working to minimise impact on staff and protect as many job roles as possible.”

“While the future of both the Art and Design and Independent Living Centre at Brierley Hill are secure, the Stourbridge College premises will not be utilised beyond September and BMet will be responsible for the sale of the Hagley Road building.

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“We will ensure there is clear communication to all stakeholders, especially our students, prospective students and their parents and guardians.”

Dudley College chief executive Lowell Williams said: "Our two Dudley-based colleges are very well placed to ensure there is continuation of learning for all BMet’s Dudley based students. We can absolutely guarantee a place for every current learner and every new applicant, either in Dudley, Brierley Hill or Halesowen and no employer provision will be lost.

“We look forward to working closely together with BMet and Halesowen in the coming weeks.”

Halesowen College principal David Williams said: “Our message to parents and learners is very clear - there is nothing to worry about. We will provide a way for every learner to complete their studies and for new applicants there is a place for all of you with us.”

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Stourbridge College was taken over by BMet, one of the largest further education colleges in the country, back in 2013 despite the interest of Dudley College.

Since the takeover the group has spent millions upgrading facilities but has struggled in the face of poor Ofsted reports – with BMet being rated "requires improvement" three inspections in a row.

The college group owes millions to the Government after a bailout and has held a government notice of concern for financial health since July 2015.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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