North Shropshire College (NSC) merged with Herefordshire and Ludlow College (HLC) on 1 November, supported by a government funding package provided by the Transactions Unit of the Education and Skills Funding Agency with the agreement of the Department of Education and Treasury.
The transition funding will support the long-term financial sustainability of NSC’s campuses at Oswestry and Walford, Baschurch. The substantial settlement will resolve NSC’s debt burden, fund a cost reduction programme and facilitate backlog maintenance work to enhance both campuses.
The new college, Herefordshire, Ludlow and North Shropshire College will be governed by HLC’s board boosted by representatives from North Shropshire. HLC presently has a large vocational campus in Hereford city, a land-based campus and farm at Holme Lacy, near Hereford, a sixth form college at Ludlow, and its apprenticeship arm, County Training.
The newly created college will be able to offer a rich, diverse curriculum and training opportunities throughout Shropshire and Herefordshire. The larger £27 million institution will also benefit from economies of scale, reducing running costs so the highest possible proportion of its income will be directed to teaching and the support of students. This will be the largest college in the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership area (Shropshire, Herefordshire, Telford and Wrekin) – well positioned to lever further revenue and capital funds for the benefit of its 6,000 full-time-equivalent students and apprentices.
The chairs of both NSC and HLC boards have jointly stated: “It has been a pleasure for us and our fellow board members to work together in partnership to prepare for this merger that is fully supported by both college’s governing bodies – a merger that will strengthen and improve both colleges and confer considerable advantage to our students.”
Ian Peake, the Principal of the new institution is “delighted that after many months of careful preparation this merger has happened. This is a very significant development that will greatly enhance the curriculum offer at North Shropshire College, particularly with the reintroduction of A level programmes in 2019, and the overall student experience. I am extremely grateful to Mr Paterson MP, the Transactions Unit, the Education and Skills Funding Agency, college governors and management for their ongoing support.”