Leeds music college in merger discussion

TWO major education centres in Leeds are in merger talks.

Leeds College of Music could become part of Leeds Metropolitan University, the Yorkshire Evening Post has learned. Governors from both sides have already agreed the idea in principle.

The college's principal, Philip Meaden, said: "Leeds College of Music is looking forward to working with staff at Leeds Metropolitan University to develop a business plan for a potential merger of the two institutions.

"We share the same vision of working with cultural partners to develop student learning and the wider student experience. The college recognises that such a partnership would strengthen the current arts and cultural provision of both organisations, to the benefit of students, the city and the region."

It has emerged that the college's governing body took the decision to merge with another higher education organisation during a meeting last month.

It then held talks with a number of potential partners, before declaring Leeds Met the favoured option.

The two now plan to hold talks with the Higher Education Funding Council of England and other interested parties. A final decision would be made in July, and the two could formally merge in September next year.

Leeds Met currently has about 30,000 students and is the focal point of a regional university network covering 300,000 learners. Leeds College of Music has 3,000 students, about 1,000 of which are full-time.

Leeds Met Pro Vice-Chancellor Steve Denton said: "We have a long and proud tradition in arts and culture, and so does Leeds College of Music. If we bring all of that together then we will have a centre of excellence of very high quality. The centre would become part of Leeds Met and I think it will be very exciting for the students."

Leeds College of Music is currently the country's largest music college and the only one to offer both further and higher education courses in music. It runs courses in all musical styles and traditions, including jazz, popular and classical music and music technology.

It is situated in Quarry Hill, which has grown into the city's informal arts quarter.

The area contains the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the BBC, 350-seat auditorium The Venue and live music club The Wardrobe. Building work recently begun on a 12m centre for Northern Ballet Theatre and Phoenix Dance Theatre.

Alex Newman, partner at Irwin Mitchell in Leeds

Yorkshire’s cities face slowdown as South East prospers, says report