TODAY City College Southampton, Eastleigh College, and Fareham College merge as a new group - in a move set to benefit students.

The merger of the three creates South Hampshire College Group. It follows a recommendation from the Department for Education last year.

Bosses have said this will create a financially stronger, responsive and ambitious Further Education (FE) organisation.

The new merger comes after City College faced intervention over its financial instability, which required nearly £8m in emergency Education and Skills Funding Agency cash, and a third “required improvement” Ofsted rating in a row.

Andrew Kaye, chief executive of the South Hampshire College Group told the Echo: “The timing of the merger is simple as it’s the beginning of the new financial year for FE colleges and gives us a run before the start of the academic year as well.

“I think staff, students, and parents can all see the opportunity that comes from a group of colleges who have shared ambitions for improving the quality of technical and professional education.”

READ MORE: Date set for Southampton, Eastleigh and Fareham college merger

The merger will see City College principal Martin Sim head back to the FE Commissioner's team, having been appointed on an interim basis.

Mr Kaye will take up his new role having previously been principal of Fareham College.

He said: “It’s a really exciting opportunity. All three colleges I’m familiar with and feel very passionate about in terms of the opportunities they provide for the communities they work with.

“It’s very clear to see what the opportunities can be with the right amount of investment and a more strategic approach to working together across the area.

“The college is focused on improving social mobility and economic development in its communities.

“We’ll be able to design new training and new curriculum, offer specific to business needs, and we’ll be able to work with a talent pipeline of students who are looking for job opportunities.

“We’ll have students who are looking for work experience, students who are looking to move into apprenticeships. So, there’s a huge number of possibilities and we’re very keen to engage with businesses and employers in the local area.

“We’ll be looking to ensure that the quality of education training is as high as it can possibly be, as this has been months in the making.”