New partnership as Hinckley and Wigston colleges share same principal
Two further education colleges have joined forces and are being overseen by one principal.
Marion Plant, principal of North Warwickshire and Hinckley College (NWHC), is now also responsible for running South Leicestershire College, in Wigston.
The colleges officially federated on Monday, when Jim Aleander, interim head of South Leicestershire College, relinquished his role.
Federated colleges are those who pledge to work together, and can do so under one principal.
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One of the main benefits is that staff can be deployed across the federation.
Mrs Plant said: "I'm very excited about what the future holds. We already had a history of working together and this decision will complement that even further."
Although both colleges will remain as separate entities, with different governing bodies, the move will allow them to expand courses and share procurement costs. It is only the second time two further education colleges have joined forces in this way.
Mrs Plant, who will divide her time between both colleges, said: "We're in a fairly unique position, but it's one I think more and more colleges will seek to copy in the near future.
"There's no doubt there are financial challenges for the sector, with budgets being reduced.
"This is our response so we can improve our offer to the local community, work with employers to satisfy their needs and grow where it's required.
"By working together we can be much more efficient.
"There isn't a precise blueprint at the moment, but courses, especially for younger students, will be duplicated across both sites.
"In terms of other courses, we'll look at where the best facilities are and where the expertise of staff lies."
Mrs Plant said she could never rule out job losses, but said: "We've already saved a six-figure sum through joint catering and cleaning contracts.
"What I can say is if the two colleges remained as they were, the risk of job losses would be higher."
South Leicestershire College caters for 1,300 16 to 18 year-olds and 4,000 adult learners, compared to 4,500 young people, and 10,000 adult learners at NWHC.
Jim Aleander said he was sad to say goodbye to the college, but was confident the decision to federate was the right one.
He said: "This is about maintaining our education programmes and building on that offer. As a medium-sized college, it would have been difficult to do this without joining forces. This is a ground-breaking decision, but one that has the interests of students at its heart."