Better Together: Somerset College and Bridgwater College Merger, a catalyst to University provision in Somerset.

Somerset College and Bridgwater College have today confirmed that they are to merge, uniting these two colleges into one organisation.

Following a detailed review and a series of public consultations, the two colleges officially join together on the 14 June, creating one educational body that spans three campuses in Taunton, Bridgwater and Cannington.  The merged college will offer one of the broadest ranges of subjects in the South West, and students will be taught by staff who combine industry experience with academic excellence and a commitment to life-long learning.  The merger brings together approximately 26,000 students, who will be taught by 1,500 staff across a huge range of courses in further and higher education, as well as vocational training, apprenticeships and a range of other learning opportunities.

Rachel Davies, Principal and CEO of Somerset College, said, “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.’

Mike Robbins, Principal of Bridgwater College, commented, “This merger is an important step for further and higher education in Somerset.  With a strong future ahead, we will continue to ensure our students gain the experience and qualifications they need to take advantage of employment opportunities in businesses within and beyond our local communities.”

Somerset College student governor Sally Mitchell, said, “This is an exciting development for students in Somerset.  With greater training and learning choices on our doorstep, students will be able to focus on gaining qualifications and experience, ultimately giving us the best route into future employment.”

Molly Blake, President of Bridgwater College Student Union, agreed.  "The merger between these colleges will be an amazing step for Bridgwater College.  Students are keen to take hold of more opportunities for their future, this merger will allow a greater number of students to access the fantastic facilities that each college has, whilst maintaining their excellence.  This merger looks to bring a very bright future for the students"

The newly combined organisation has official status from 14 June 2016, with the name for the merged organisation to be determined in due course.  In the meantime, education and training provision continues as normal at both colleges.