STOURBRIDGE College is to close this summer, the News can reveal, following a review by the FE Commissioner.

The landmark Hagley Road college campus is to be sold off by cash strapped Birmingham Metropolitan College, it has been confirmed today (Thursday).

The news comes after an eight week review into BMet’s Black Country provision.

Under the proposal, Stourbridge College students will be transferred to Dudley and Halesowen colleges by the start of the new academic year in September 2019.  

Dudley College of Technology will take over apprenticeship provision, art and design, construction equine, foundation learning, digital and ICT and motor vehicle; and Halesowen College will take over responsibility for business, early years, health and social care, public services, sport and science.   The Stourbridge College campus in Hagley Road, which has had millions spent on it in recent years, and the land will be disposed of and the sale will be managed by BMet.

Dudley College will continue to provide education, including courses for high needs learners, at The Art and Design Centre in Brierley Hill and Skills Shop at Merry Hill.

Art and design students at BMet’s Kidderminster campus will also transfer to Dudley College of Technology.   BMet principal and CEO, Cliff Hall, said: “This decision has not been taken lightly.

“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.”

  On the closure of the Hagley Road campus in Stourbridge, he added:  “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.

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

Lowell Williams, CEO at Dudley College of Technology, 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.”

David Williams, principal of Halesowen College, stressed to parents and learners “there is nothing to worry about” and added: “We will provide a way for every learner to complete their studies and for new applicants there is a place with us.”

Further information and consultation events are planned and once the transfer proposals are finalised detailed operational proposals will be made public, college bosses said.