Two further education colleges are planning to merge.
Further talks are planned to examine the business case for a formal merger of Sussex Coast College Hastings and Sussex Downs College.
If successful, the new college will launch on March 29, 2018.
A transition board has been created to oversee the process and will be chaired by the renowned educationalist at Sussex Downs College, Henry Ball, with Tony Campbell OBE KSG, former principal at St Richard’s College and now chair of corporation at Sussex Coast College, as vice chair.
In 2010 Sussex Coast College Hastings opened two new college campuses, one on Station Plaza in the town centre and the other in Ore Valley.
The college now welcomes more than 1,800 young people and 4,000 adults every year to its full and part time academic and vocational courses. Sussex Coast College University Centre, which will offer degrees and higher education to 400 students, is due to open in September 2017.
Mr Campbell said: “The corporation of Sussex Coast College Hastings is committed to working collaboratively with Sussex Downs College for the development of the new college.
“Both corporations have a progressive vision for this new college which will meet the very diverse education and training needs of young adults and employers across East Sussex and beyond.
“The strategic alliance will ensure the sustainability and development of both colleges within their respective communities which they are committed to serving.
“We are also committed to improving the economic prosperity, life chances and wellbeing of every person in both communities and across East Sussex.”
Sussex Downs College offers full and part time courses and has a total of 3,800 students aged 16-19 and 6,000 adult learners enrolled across three sites in Eastbourne, Lewes and Newhaven.
Henry Ball, the chair of Sussex Downs College, said: “At a time of unprecedented changes in the sector, the potential ‘merger’ is a first step of an ambitious programme for educational change that will give young people, employers and adults throughout East Sussex ‘Access to Excellence’ - it will provide the highest level of qualifications and skills they need to achieve their ambitions.”
The colleges have been close working partners for some time. Launched a year ago, Sussex Skills Solutions is a joint venture focussed on apprenticeships and employer related trading.
Working in partnership will be a hallmark of the new college which promises to establish new and innovative ways of working with schools, parents, employers, social enterprises and local authorities.
Mr Ball added: “Both colleges have a distinguished legacy of serving their communities and it is our shared responsibility to ensure access to high quality education and training is in place for generations to come.”