Two of the county’s colleges have released more information on a proposed merger as they launch a public consultation that could offer what has been described as ‘the biggest change in further education in Dorset since the 1940s'.

Weymouth College and Kingston Maurward College are welcoming public feedback ahead of a suggested joining of forces this summer.

Plans for the merger were put forward last September with aims to combine the strengths of both institutions into one college that offers enhanced educational experience for students across the region.

It has now been revealed that if agreed, the proposed merger will take place on Thursday August 1, 2024 and is estimated to have a combined college turnover of around £24m.

Around 10 miles apart, the colleges have operated collaboratively in the past, offering a complementary range of courses, with the Kingston Maurward site near Dorchester focusing on land-based courses in agriculture, animal studies and horticulture, and Weymouth offering A Levels and a range of general and technical courses.

The colleges have said that students will remain on the campus where they currently study, saying that ‘at this stage’ there are no plans for students to travel between campuses.

According to the plans, ‘the majority’ of students will continue to have their programmes delivered on the campus they currently expect to attend.

Governing bodies from the colleges have set up a ‘Joint Steering Group’ to oversee the merger process and necessary legal and financial procedures and both colleges 'will work to ensure any change is ‘as smooth as possible.’

The public consultation finishes on Tuesday, April 30, with an update on the outcome to be released on Thursday, June 27.

The colleges are asking for members of the community, employers, staff, and students to participate.

It is suggested that by joining forces, plans are estimated to make the groups ‘financially stronger and more resilient’ as they look to ensure the sustainability of further education provision in the local area for generations to come.

According to the groups, the merger process does carry ‘some risks’ which have been identified as part of the merger plan due to the size of the project.

It is said that experienced project managers are working closely with both college principals to support with the risks faced, all overseen by the Joint Steering Group with joint governor representatives from both colleges.

The groups say they have ‘comprehensive plans’ in place to mitigate and manage the identified risks and ensure the merger is delivered smoothly. Both colleges strongly believe that merger benefits significantly outweigh any potential risks.

It is still unknown whether the two colleges coming together would lead to job losses for staff.

The college chairs have described the proposed merger as a 'generational game-changer fit for the rapidly changing challenges of our time.'

Steve Webb, Chair of the Board of Governors at Weymouth College, said: "We are committed to building a college that not only meets the needs of our students but also contributes positively to the socio-economic fabric of Dorset.

“This merger represents a strategic opportunity to enhance educational provision and foster greater collaboration within our region."

Rob Lasseter, Chair of the Board of Governors at Kingston Maurward College, said: "This partnership marks a pivotal moment for education in Dorset. By pooling our resources and expertise, we can create a stronger, more dynamic learning environment that benefits our students and community.

“As we embark on this journey towards a proposed merger, transparency and inclusivity are paramount. We are committed to keeping our stakeholders informed every step of the way and welcome input and feedback. Together, we can build a brighter future for education in Dorset.”

For more information, and to view the consultation plans, visit or