There is no denying that times are incredibly tough for the further education sector.
We know that the next three years will bring swingeing cuts to our adult budgets and potential reductions in unit resource for 16 to 19 year olds. Management teams in every college in the country will be exploring the impact of this on their profit and loss account and seeking new ways to generate income and save costs.
Financial pressures are nothing new, but I can’t remember a time when the position has been quite so stark.
Finance, or lack of it, remains one of the key drivers pushing colleges to merge. We have certainly seen a recent flurry of merger activity, a process made simpler by the 2010 Education Act. This comment by the Guardian Further Education Hub provides a useful overview.
But are mergers the only answer to achieving financial stability amidst a sea of cuts? I believe there are alternatives.