BOSSES at Birmingham Metropolitan College have been accused of leaving “a trail of devastation in Stourbridge” as the town reels from the shock news that Stourbridge College is to close this summer.

Councillor Nic Barlow slammed the decision to pull the plug on the landmark Hagley Road campus to help pay off debts accrued by BMet which merged with Stourbridge College back in 2013.

All students will have the option of transferring their studies to Dudley and Halesowen Colleges from September but the long-running Stourbridge campus, which underwent a £5million makeover just five years ago, is to close its doors for good and will be sold off by BMet.

Cllr Barlow, who represents Wollaston and Stourbridge Town for the Conservatives, said: “BMet have left a trail of devastation in Stourbridge. It’s dreadful news for the town.

“We’ve had an FE college there since the late 1950s.

“It’s a shame for the students but fortunately Dudley and Halesowen Colleges have stepped in to pick up the pieces but we just don’t know what’s going to happen to the Hagley Road campus.”

Stourbridge MP Margot James blamed the college’s demise on BMet’s “irresponsible expansion strategy” branding it “an awful tale of woeful mismanagement” and she said: “BMet is in severe financial difficulties. 

"I hoped the other two colleges would be able to help or absorb it to allow the Stourbridge College site to continue. That was probably wishful thinking.”

She admitted she backed the decision, a few years back, which led to Stourbridge College merging with BMet rather than Dudley College but stressed: “I supported the decision at the time which I now very much regret.”

The Conservative MP said looking at the positives “at least students will get better opportunities”.

She said Dudley College of Technology will shortly be offering new T Level courses and just last month the government approved a bid by Dudley College to build a new £32million Institute of Technology which will specialise in advanced manufacturing, modern construction methodologies and medical engineering.

Bosses at Dudley College of Technology and Halesowen College say they there will be no loss of entitlement for any learner or employer currently engaged with BMet in the Dudley borough and Stourbridge students will be transferred to Dudley and Halesowen colleges by the new academic year in September.

Dudley College will take over apprenticeship provision, art and design, construction equine, foundation learning, digital and ICT and motor vehicle - and it will continue to provide education at Stourbridge College's Brierley Hill Art and Design Centre in Venture Way and the Skills Shop at Merry Hill.

Halesowen College will take over responsibility for business, early years, health and social care, public services, sport and science.

Art and design students at the BMet Kidderminster campus will also be transferred to Dudley College.

BMet principal and CEO, Cliff Hall, said the decision to close the Stourbridge campus had "not been taken lightly" and he stressed the change was "in the best interests of our learners both in the Black Country and Birmingham".

Meanwhile - the University and College Union (UCU) has slammed the decision, with the union's regional support official, Teresa Corr, calling it "a deeply damaging move".

She said: "Learners and the local community are paying a high price for years of poor management.

‘There has been a total lack of meaningful consultation with the hundreds of staff and students that will be affected, many of whom will be forced to travel to other colleges.

"The plans make no financial sense as the millions of pounds recently spent on refurbishing the Hagley Road campus will now go to waste."

The union is now urging BMet to call a halt to the plan, consult properly with affected staff, students and employers and to rule out any compulsory redundancies.