Grŵp Llandrillo Menai (GLLM) a merger of three successful North Wales colleges, namely Coleg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai and Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor, began its first day of operation on 2 April 2012. This new Grŵp creates an umbrella organisation to oversee the operation of the three member colleges, and completes the process started in 2010 when Coleg Llandrillo Cymru merged with Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor.
This recent merger has created Wales' largest Further Education Institution (FEI) employing in excess of 2,000 staff delivering courses to around 34,000 students across four counties in campuses from Denbigh to Dolgellau, as well as business and research facilities.
GLLM’s strategic thrust focuses upon providing the knowledge and skills that seek to increase the effectiveness, competitiveness and ultimate drive for success of the North Wales economy, by widening opportunities through a relevant, coherent and planned curriculum that provides progressive and achievable opportunities for learners at all levels including higher education.
In 2011/12, total HE enrolments were 1,059, of which 46% were full time and 54% were part time. Of its learners, 49% are mature students aged 23+.
The Grwp offers in excess of 60 programmes in a wide range of disciplines, including HNC/Ds, foundation degrees and honours degrees. The range and breadth of the curriculum is the result of a carefully planned strategy to respond to the regional agenda that includes working more closely with employers, Sector Skills Councils and professional bodies and commitment to a core mission of widening access and participation. A new University Centre at GLLM’s Rhos Campus is now operational in 2014 as a result of the 2011 strategic alliance established with Bangor University.
Brief History of HE within the Institution
GLLM, in all its forms, has offered HE for more than 35 years, initially offering BTEC programmes in Catering and Hospitality, then the core business of what was Llandrillo Technical College. As the college expanded, HE was additionally offered in Motor Vehicle Management, Business Administration and Information Technology with BTEC and Glyndwr University respectively.
In 1990, the University of Glamorgan (UoG) embarked upon a strategy of seeking further education (FE) collaboration, with regard to expanding HE on a pan-Wales basis. This presented Coleg Llandrillo with an opportunity to integrate its own mission of expanding opportunities for HE with that of UoG. As a result, HE provision expanded into new undergraduate areas such as Leisure & Tourism and Creative and Interactive Media and a full postgraduate programme in Management. The quality of the provision offered through UoG by the college was recognised in 1997, when it was awarded Associate College status. Further recognition was awarded in 2001 when Llandrillo became one of only four Accredited Colleges of UoG. This accreditation affirmed the level of satisfaction with the quality of provision and delivery of HE at the college, and the collaboration that existed between the two institutions.
The majority of the college’s provision was with UoG up until 2005/06, with the exception of Computing (previously with UoG) and Education and Training (previously with the University of Wales, Newport) which had already moved to the new regional partner (Glyndwr University) in 2004/05. At this time, both UoG and the college recognised that new alliances needed to be forged in light of the shift to greater emphasis being placed on the regional agenda, driven by the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG).
As a direct consequence, a major review of HE was undertaken by the college in 2005/06, with the aim of modernising the curriculum and developing effective new partnership strategies. This resulted in a new alliance being forged with the University of Wales (UW), with Bangor University (BU) providing moderation. The first programmes to be validated by UW in the summer of 2006 included foundation and honours degrees in Management and Business, Hotel and Hospitality Management and Management of Travel and Tourism. Subsequent validations the following year included Childhood and Learning Support Studies, Police Studies and Sports Coaching and Exercise Science.
Subsequently, in July 2007, after working only one year in partnership with UW, the college was formally recognised as ‘a body associated with the University of Wales’ and in 2008, two further programmes were added to its portfolio with UW, namely FdA Retail Management and BA (Hons) Top-up Culinary Arts. In 2009, a further 12 programmes were successfully validated, 11 of which were validated through UW. Groundbreaking developments included programmes in Deaf Studies, Library & Information Management, Renewable Energy Technology and Sustainable Development in Construction.
In 2010, two additional foundation degrees were successfully validated, Digital Media & Television Production and Energy & Power Technologies with the University of Wales and Bangor University respectively. During this period, the Education & Training provision was revalidated on a franchise basis with the University of Wales, Newport as a direct consequence of the Coleg Llandrillo’s merger with Coleg Meirion Dŵyfor.
In 2011, all validated UW provision was revalidated with Bangor University, the college’s key strategic regional partner. In addition, participation in national projects, notably the FD/WBL Project, enabled the College to work in partnership with Cardiff Metropolitan University and Glyndŵr University to develop FdSc Sustainable Design and Construction and FdSc Vehicle Performance Technology respectively.
In spring 2012, one other award FdA Professional Tourist Guiding was validated by Cardiff Metropolitan University a further FD/WBL Project development.
In June 2012, FdA Assistive Technologies in Practice, FdSc Healthcare Practice, BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering (Top-up) and a Level 0 International Foundation Programme were added the portfolio of awards validated by Bangor University.