Highbury College and Portsmouth College propose to merge to form a single new organisation.

This merger would offer a unique opportunity bring together two great complementary colleges to enhance the quality and choice of courses for the learners in and around the city. To give a single, clear identity to the Colleges following merger, it is proposed that the new merged college corporation will be called City of Portsmouth College.

The consultation document below outlines the proposed vision for the new College, and welcomes views from anyone who would like to respond. At the bottom of this page you can submit your views. The responses, together with other information, will be fully considered as part of any final proposals that are put forward.

Public Consultation Document

This document explains how the merger will take place, and how it will improve the future range and quality of training and education in Portsmouth and the surrounding areas.

Public Consultation Outcome Report

Many thanks to all those that took the time to respond to our consultation on the proposed merger between Portsmouth College and Highbury College that took place between 26th March and 28th April 2021. Please click on the link below to review the summary report.

Please contact consultation@highbury.ac.uk if you would like to receive a free copy of this report.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Following the announcement that the governing bodies of Highbury College and Portsmouth College have agreed, in principle, to merge, we wanted to provide you with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

You may like to read this document alongside the public consultation document that can be found here.

If you have any further queries over the coming weeks, please do not hesitate to contact us. Beyond the public consultation exercise, we are keen that everyone who has an interest in our college, either now or in the future, is informed, and given their chance to have their say, about such a key development.

What does a merged college mean for the people of Portsmouth?

By combining the existing resources and expertise of both colleges, the merged college will give students, employers and the residents of Portsmouth an even better education and training offer. We will continue to be innovative and will develop to meet the needs of our communities, employers and the local, regional and national economies. Our vision is One City – One College.

Are there any downsides of merger?

The merger process, as with all projects of this size carry risk and the risks to the merger have been identified as part of the merger plan. One of the risks we have considered and are proactively managing is the perception that the College will become too large and not continue to offer an excellent student experience. Please be reassured that we will continue to offer a personal and supportive student approach. We have engaged an experienced project manager who is working closely with both the CEO (Designate) and Principal (Designate) to support with this, all overseen by a Shadow Board with joint governor reprsentatives from both colleges. We have comprehensive plans in place to mitigate and manage the risks identified to ensure the merger is delivered in the smoothest way possible. Of course, it is the firm belief of both colleges that the benefits of merger outweigh any potential risks which have been identified.

When will we know if the merger is definitely happening?

Both Colleges are committed to serving the communities and economy of Portsmouth to grow and succeed. We believe that this can best be done by uniting to offer seamless learning pathways into work and higher levels of study. We believe that this will attract inward investment and support regeneration; that it will enable skills development tackling unemployment and low wage work. We want to create a prosperous future for our young people and diverse communities and believe we can do this better as one college maximizing our resources and being focused at the point of delivery.

The public consultation outcome finishes on Wednesday 28th April 2021 and an update regarding the outcome will be provided by Friday 18th June 2021.

How will I know the progress of the merger, and how will this be communicated?

The Shadow Board, made up equally of representatives from both College boards, is committed to ensuring all staff and stakeholders are kept informed of progress and developments through a range of channels. There is a communication plan that will keep people informed of progress in a timely manner throughout the process. There is an ‘Ask a Question’ button on the Highbury website and people can also email hello@tpc.ac.uk to ask questions of Portsmouth College. Regular updates will posted on both college websites.

What is the date of the merger?

The merger date, if agreed, is Friday 30th July 2021.

What will the new name of the College be?

It has been proposed that the new College name is City of Portsmouth College. This name is subject to consultation which will also close on Wednesday 28th April 2021. The outcome of this consultation will be announced on Friday 18th June 2021. An update will be provided.

Who will be the CEO and Principal?

The Shadow Board and both College boards have agreed that Penny Wycherley will be the Chief Executive Officer and Simon Barrable will be the Principal of the new merged college. They are working closely together to ensure the success of the merged college.

How will the new college ensure that quality is challenged and maintained?

The merged college will ensure that the good practices already in place in both colleges will be shared and the best of existing arrangements will be used to further improve our services. The governors and leaders will work to ensure that quality levels are maintained and improved. By building on our strong foundation and learning from each other, both colleges will be able to share best practices, share resources and create improved learning environments for students and apprentices.

When would changes start to take effect?

Merging two colleges is a complex process and although the merger is due to take place on Friday 30th July 2021, operationally and practically there will still be considerable work to do to ensure we gain the maximum benefit from joining together. We are keen that the separate campuses within the new college will retain their own unique characters and curriculum offers within the overall new college.

How big will be the merged College be?

The combined college will have a turnover of around £30m.

Progressing the merger between the College will be a time consuming and complex process, which could take resource away from the College core business, and reduce focus on the students, how will this be managed to ensure that this does not happen?

The governors and leadership teams are very mindful of the interests of our current and new students.. We have clear priorities for further quality improvement and supporting our students. To help us do this the merger process is being managed by a Shadow Board and supported by a specialist project manager.

How will the proposed merger affect students applying for September 2021?

We are committed to ensuring that it is business as usual for our students and employers. Whilst the merger is happening, students should continue to apply for a course offered in the usual way and follow the existing application guidance and procedures of each college. Our priority throughout the process is to ensure that students studying at either college continue to have the high-quality education and training they expect.As the merger of the colleges progresses, we will keep applicants up to date with the latest news and will update both college websites to help ensure everyone has the information they need. The majority of students will continue to have their programmes delivered on the campus site they are expecting to attend.

Student FAQs


Our commitment to your education and college experience after the proposed merger:

You will

  • keep the same teacher wherever possible, but some changes may occur on certain courses, e.g. some two-year A Levels or if a teacher has left or for a specialist topic.
  • continue your learning on almost all learning programmes on the same campus
  • have more opportunities e.g. for enrichment activities or a wider range of progression pathways
  • still be able to access the strong student support at each site
  • have opportunities to collaborate on projects across the campuses, e.g. linking Student Unions and curriculum projects.

How will the merger impact on me as I am a current student part way through my course?

After the point of merger, you will not experience a significant change to your college experience as the vast majority of students are remaining at the same campus with the same staff. Your tutors and support staff will continue to work and support you in achieving your qualifications and progression routes.

As a current student, would I have to go across different campuses for my studies?

The vast majority of students are remaining at the same campus with the same staff. For the minority of students that are moving campuses, we are working with them separately to support the move. There are no plans to have students going between campuses at this stage to access their courses and learning.

As a current student I make use of the student support services at my current college. Will this change from September 2021 when the colleges merge?

As the vast majority of students are remaining at their existing campus, then they will still be able to access the student support functions that they do now. For new students who join the College in September 2021, they will be able to access student support services at each campus in the same way as existing students.

How will the proposed merger affect students applying for courses starting in September 2021?

Please apply in the usual way to the college campus that has the course that you want to study and follow that college’s application guidance and procedures. The vast majority of courses will continue to be delivered on the campus site you are expecting to attend. Enrolment will be carried out at each campus in the normal way.

What would the changes mean for students?

It would be an exciting time for all our students. The proposed merger will give a greater choice of courses, flexibility and resources for students to enjoy. We are also bidding for funding for significant upgrades to student facilities and work areas which, if successful, will be start operation in phases from 2023.

Will it affect my qualification(s)?

No. Virtually all of our awards and qualifications are certified by external bodies and these will not be affected in any way. If you are studying for a degree or post-graduate award, then you will still receive your degree from the awarding partner.

Will there be any cancellation of courses?

There will be no changes arising from the merger process. However, it is normal practice that college courses are constantly reviewed to make sure that they are meeting the needs of both the student and employers. We will communicate with you about any such changes if they should arise.

Will universities, employers and training providers be aware of the merger for progression reasons?

Yes, we are communicating with all our stakeholders as part of the consultation about the proposed changes. Your progression routes will not change because of the merger.

What happens next?

The College’s governing bodies have set up a Shadow Board to oversee the implementation of the merger and the necessary legal and financial procedures. Both Colleges will work closely together over the next few months.

How can I keep up to date with developments?

As the merger discussion progress, we will keep applicants up to date with the latest news and will update the merger website at each college so everyone can access the information. Our priority throughout the process is to ensure that new applicants and students studying with us continue to have the high-quality education and training they expect.

Instrument & Articles of Government – Consultation

It is proposed that the City of Portsmouth College comprise up to 18 independent governors (compared with the 16 maximum currently stipulated). This larger board will enable an equal representation of Highbury College and Portsmouth College governors and the recruitment of new governors. It is envisaged that this increase will be for a transitional period of three years.

It is also proposed to increase the number of Vice-Chairs of Corporation from one to two at the discretion of the Chair of Corporation.

In order to effect these changes, it is necessary to amend Highbury College's governing document, the Instrument & Articles of Government, and in line with good practice we are consulting on these proposed changes.

We welcome feedback from all interested parties - please email the Clerk to the Corporation at paola.schweitzer@highbury.ac.uk by Monday 19th July.