Tresham College has announced it is set to merge with Bedford College.
The colleges have been in discussions since last autumn and a formal decision was made by the board of governors yesterday (Thursday).
Following a poor Ofsted inspection and subsequent intervention by the FE Commissioner at Tresham, which has campuses in Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough, it was felt that a merger was the best solution to provide quality learning opportunities to current and new students.
The merger, which will hopefully complete this August, will create a larger, more financially sustainable college able to withstand the financial pressures to which FE colleges are exposed.
Students and staff at the colleges will continue as usual and current courses will not be affected.
It is hoped the combined efforts of both management teams and governing bodies will result in rapid improvements in quality and financial management at Tresham to bring significant benefits to the area.
Bedford College principal and chief executive for the past two decades, Ian Pryce CBE, said: “It is a pleasure to report that the Board of Tresham College has today unanimously chosen Bedford College as its preferred merger partner.
“The merger creates one of the most exciting colleges in the UK, serving Bedfordshire and North Northamptonshire, with an income of nearly £60m and 15,000 students, including 1,900 apprentices and 1,000 students studying at university level.
“This is a merger that will create exciting new opportunities for the communities, students, apprentices, employers and staff we serve.
“The combined college will have the size and scale to ensure strong support services and financial security.
“It is our joint intention that the colleges should merge on 1 August 2017 subject to due diligence and consultation.
“We recognise that this is an ambitious timescale.
“Once the due diligence and consultation has been completed, Tresham Corporation will dissolve and its staff, assets and liabilities will transfer to Bedford College Corporation.
“Both colleges are committed to this being a true merger; this is simply the legal arrangement that best achieves that end.
“Tresham is currently led by an expert and highly experienced former FE principal, Ioan Morgan CBE.
“I am particularly pleased that Ioan is to stay at Tresham along with other key senior interim staff to ensure the merger is implemented smoothly.”
Ioan Morgan, interim principal at Tresham College, said: “I am delighted we have found such a well-respected partner college that shares our values in Bedford College.
“The future looks exciting for students and businesses both large and small who will benefit from local high quality provision that will be developed by combining expertise from both colleges.”
Jane Gardner, chairman of Tresham board of governors, said: “I am pleased that we have decided to merge with Bedford, a consistently high performing college and this will result in a new college serving the needs of students and businesses in our region.
“This merger aims to bring significant benefits to the area and for both the current and future students of both colleges.”
By merging, the colleges will be able to develop new courses that support both the trades and more academic routes alongside offering a wide range of apprenticeships to meet local business needs.
It is hoped that the merger between the colleges will provide a financially robust college which is fit to grow and adapt to suit the needs of the local area, and high quality and diverse course provision for school leavers and a curriculum that meets the economic needs identified as part of the area based review.
Disruptions and unnecessary travel will be minimised for students and staff as the new college is focused on growth.