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Colleges announce agreement to merge

The colleges have been in discussions since autumn last year and a formal decision was made by the board of governors yesterday (Thursday).

The move follows criticism by Ofsted inspectors of standards at Tresham, which has campuses at Kettering, Corby and Silverstone. It was felt that merger was the best solution to provide quality learning opportunities to current and new students. 

The colleges aim to complete the merger by August and to create a larger, more financially sustainable college.

Students and staff at the colleges will continue as usual, and current courses will not be affected.

Ian Pryce (pictured), Bedford College’s principal and chief executive, said: “The merger creates one of the most exciting colleges in the UK, serving Bedfordshire and North Northamptonshire.

“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.”

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;
  • 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.

The combined college will generate an income of around £60 million and educate 15,000 students, including 1,900 apprentices and 1,000 students studying at university level.

Mr Pryce admitted that the merger timetable is “ambitious”.

He added: “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 College interim principal Ioan Morgan is to remain in post along with other key senior interim staff to ensure the merger is implemented smoothly.

He 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.”

Tresham’s chair of governors Jane Gardner 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.