On Tuesday a public consultation into the merger of Epping Forest College (EFC) with New City College closed.

It followed the announcement that the Debden institution would become the fourth member of what will be the country's third biggest college group.

In August EFC joins Tower Hamlets College, Hackney Community College and Redbridge College.

Ruth Lomax, group director of communications and customer services at New City College, took some time to answer key questions about the merger.

Will any students currently based at EFC have classes or appointments at any of the group's other colleges, through choice or otherwise?

The current Epping Forest College campus in Loughton will be retained. No EFC students will need to move campus to complete their courses, nor will they need to go to another campus for any appointments related to their study.

How many staff are EFC likely to lose and not be replaced before the policy not to replace certain leavers is lifted?

No staff cuts at Epping Forest College are proposed as a result of the merger with New City College.

How much money is this merger going to save EFC?

The primary reason for this merger is to secure the future of Epping Forest College’s provision through merging with a financially robust college, rather than to save money. With any merger there are potential economies of scale. No specific savings forecast has been made however the previous mergers in the New City College group have seen savings in the areas of software, printing, insurance and other running costs.

Will any provisions currently offered at EFC be lost as a result of the merger?

There is no planned cut in curriculum provision as a result of the merger. The Loughton campus will continue to offer a full and varied range of courses from entry level to HE level for young people and adults. The merger will provide the opportunity for investment into the Loughton campus to develop higher level specialisms that are linked to local jobs.

Part of the consultation document reads "This merger proposal is grounded in better meeting the needs of our students and the communities that we serve..." Can you elaborate a little on how this will be achieved?

There has been a clear recommendation from the Department for Education for Epping Forest College to find a suitable merger partner in order to protect its future and the college has been exploring this for around 18 months. It is clear that many members of the local community see the college as an important asset to the area. Joining the New City College Group would provide the financial stability that Epping Forest College needs to continue in its journey of improvement, providing courses and qualifications that meet the needs of local people and the local and regional economy. The merger will enable the sharing of best practice across all areas of teaching, learning and quality processes which will make sure of a high quality offer to students and local communities now and in the future. The boards of both colleges are committed to a positive result from the merger, for the benefit of local people.