STOURBRIDGE College bosses have hit back at claims they rushed through merger plans without considering all the options.

Proposals for massive changes which would see the college joining up with Birmingham Metropolitan College have been attacked by the University and College Union (UCU).

The union claims freedom of information requests for details of what options were considered have been blocked and advice from government ministers was ignored.

UCU regional official, Nick Varney, said: “Questions have to be asked about how the colleges’ management have arrived at this rushed merger proposal, blocking UCU from seeing key documents in the process.

“At a time when our members feel anxious about their security of work it is extremely unsettling to be denied the opportunity to scrutinise the information that has led to this proposal.

"It is a bit like being asked to comment on the goals when you have not seen the match."

The consultation period on the proposed merger, which was announced at the end of last year, closed today (Wednesday February 27) and the union claims ministerial advice to consider a range of options at the start of the process has been disregarded.

However college bosses insist they have followed legal advice and received plenty of positive feedback on the merger plan.

Stourbridge College principal, Lynette Cutting, said: "The board and senior team at Stourbridge College have been considering various strategic options for a considerable time.

“We have been in direct dialogue with all interested parties including our recognised unions and the feedback from a significant number of them has been very positive.

"This is an exciting time for us and we know the merger will benefit students as well as increase opportunities for businesses in the region.”

Meanwhile, A level students at the college could be studying in plush new classrooms if ambitious plans to refurbish buildings at the Hagley Road campus are successful.

A bid for a grant from the College Capital Investment Fund (CCIF) to help pay for a £5m upgrade is being prepared for submission later this year.

Under the scheme work to revamp the upper floors of the A level building could be complete by 2015.

Lynette Cutting said: "We have around 500 students doing A levels and it is our aim, through our property strategy, to continually improve facilities for students.

"If this particular bid is successful, our intention is to create a new centre of excellence for A Levels in addition to our centres of excellence for early years, care and uniformed public services, creative industries, foundation learning and construction and building services.”