Response to consultation on STC and TMC merger



The recognised Joint Trade Unions (GMB, UCU and UNISON) respond to the proposed merger of South Tyneside College and Tyne Metropolitan College as follows.


Background and Introduction

It has been known for some time that South Tyneside College and Tyne Metropolitan College (“the Colleges”) are to merge and form one FE institution.  The formal consultation process has begun and the Joint Trade Unions (JTUs) acknowledge that we are now consulting formally and working together positively with “the Colleges” to respond in this process.

We have not opposed the merger, and this response is no different.  Our concerns have always been:

  • The continuation of high quality, diverse education provision in the local communities that are currently served by the existing Colleges;
  • The protection of jobs at current sites;
  • No detriment in staff terms and conditions and pay;
  • The involvement of the recognised staff trade unions in consultations about the changes;

Our hopes for the new College are that it builds on the good traditions of both Colleges and that it continues to provide education for the local communities with training delivered by staff that are valued and treated with respect.

We do not have an alternative for the proposed name.


Educational Provision

Both Colleges recently underwent OFSTED inspections, receiving a “Good” outcome – Grade 2.  We would want to see the diverse range of high quality education that is currently provided to continue: building on the positive traditions of both institutions.


A presence both sides of the water

It has been said that one of the benefits of a merger such as this, is that there is no competition for the same students between the current organisations.  Students rarely cross the water from the area surrounding either College to go and study at the other.  We are therefore pleased to see the commitments about continuing existing provision in the documents accompanying this consultation, and no assumption that the travelling habits of potential students are likely to change.


Consultation with staff

That the JTUs continue to be fully consulted about the proposed merger of “the Colleges”.  This formal response is part of the process of the JTUs making representations to “the Colleges” and we will continue to make these on behalf of our affected members.  We have already made it clear that we wish to see all agreements with the current recognised JTUs continue, and that we would wish to talk about industrial relations in the new College throughout this consultation.


Protections and Reassurances for Staff

The TUPE process offers some protections for staff and we are involved in that formal consultation process.  But this is still a time of uncertainty in both Colleges and reassurances are sought.  There has been much change within the further education sector in the last few years and significant funding cuts continue to be felt both sides of the water.

The protection of jobs for our members, no compulsory redundancies, and no detriment to terms and conditions for those in the new College – are all matters that are important to the JTUs and our members at “the Colleges”.

This is perhaps more the case for our members at Tyne Met College, as that organisation will cease to exist in this Type B merger, but reassurances are also needed for staff at South Tyneside College.  We have mentioned that students are unlikely to want to cross the water when education provision is available in their locale.  The same would be true for staff and their current workplaces.



The governance arrangements should ensure:

  • All staff groups involvement;
  • Representation from both former Colleges;


Formal Proposal:

We would wish to see at least two staff representatives’ seats on the Governing Body for the new College: one from the teaching staff; one from the non-teaching staff.


The Future

The educational provision that currently exists at all of the sites of the two Colleges should continue to operate and serve those local communities. That is the benefit of further education – and that has to continue.  We acknowledge this commitment as outlined by “the Colleges” in the consultation document which states that the new merged College ‘will operate across all existing sites in South Tyneside and North Tyneside’.


We will seek to ensure that the new College continues to champion the importance of further education, serving the best interests of local communities.  One of the future intentions of the new College is the continued importance of adapting and responding to ‘the changing needs of the local area’. The JTUs see this as a positive step.


The JTUs will continue to work with the senior representatives of “the Colleges” to represent the interests of our membership.  The JTUs will be guided by the comments that we have made in this response to the formal consultation.


The joint trade unions have every interest in making sure that the new College works well for the benefit of the staff, students and our local communities and we will continue to be involved in that evolving process.



Click to download the response as a PDF