Bedford College and Tresham College of Further and Higher Education in Northamptonshire have begun the process to officially merge.
The colleges have been in discussions since autumn last year and a formal decision was made by the board of governors on Thursday, February 2.
Following a poor Ofsted inspection and subsequent intervention by the FE Commissioner at Tresham College, it was felt that merger was the best solution. The merger, which will hopefully complete in 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, however, with the combined efforts rapid improvements in quality and financial management will be seen at Tresham to bring significant benefits to the area.
Principal and chief executive for the past two decades at Bedford College, 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.”
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.”