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Ipswich: College and council set for pioneering link-up

PUBLISHED: 09:28 13 March 2014 | UPDATED: 09:28 13 March 2014

Suffolk New College, a major new tie-up between the college and the borough council. Left to right, principal Dave Muller and Council Chief Exec Dave Ellesmere.

Suffolk New College, a major new tie-up between the college and the borough council. Left to right, principal Dave Muller and Council Chief Exec Dave Ellesmere.

Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk New College are moving towards a trend-setting tie-up in a bid to cut costs and improve job opportunities for students.

However it could result with fewer jobs as departments like IT, Human Resources, and general administration may be merged across the organisations.

The council and college already operate a joint print shop, iPrint on the ground floor of Grafton House, and the council’s former nursery at Chantry Park has been taken over by the college for horticultural training.

The borough is expected to agree next week to the signing of a “memorandum of understanding” between the two organisations which should allow them to move towards working more closely together.

Borough leader David Ellesmere said: “Both of us are looking at making savings, and there are clear areas where we can come together to help each other.

“But it is also important that there are areas in which we can really help each other.”

Students on courses like leisure management and hospitality could be found work placements or work experience at leisure centres, the Regent, or the Corn Exchange complex.

Accountancy and business studies students could get experience in the borough’s administration, and there could be other opportunities.

There could be other advantages – Suffolk New College is the sponsor of the Suffolk New Academy, formerly Chantry High School – and its IT and human resources could also be included in the merger.

Mr Ellesmere said: “As more schools become academies, they will need support for administration, IT, and human resources even though they will not be large enough to have a big department each. We might be able to offer them those services.”

He added: “So far as we are aware this is the first time there has been such an extensive tie-up proposed between a local authority and a college.”

Suffolk New College principal Dave Muller said it was important that the college had linked up with a local organisation like the borough.

He said: “About 70% of our students come from Ipswich itself and most of the rest come from the area around Ipswich.

“When they finish their courses or their apprenticeships, many will expect to remain in the Ipswich area. To have a link like this with the borough is very important to us.”

He said it was not possible to estimate what the effect on jobs might be – but the college was facing a very tight budget for next year.

The formation of the joint print shop had led to fewer people being employed, but there had not been any compulsory redundancies.

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