Askham Bryan College’s governing body has made its final decision on Newton Rigg Campus.
The governing body has confirmed that the College will not deliver educational provision from its Newton Rigg site beyond July 2021.
Newton Rigg Campus in Penrith, Cumbria, has been earmarked for possible closure in July 2021 since the governing body took a decision in principle in May 2020 to close the site.
This latest development reflects the governing body’s final decision, made at its last meeting on July 20th 2020, following the conclusion of a 45-day formal consultation process with Newton Rigg staff and the recognised trade unions.
Tim Whitaker, Chief Executive Officer and Principal, Askham Bryan College, said: “We understand the strength of feeling for Newton Rigg. This has been a very difficult decision to make and the prospect of future job losses is regrettable.”
He added: “However, we have no other option given the demographic and recruitment challenges and financial losses that we have faced, which we have shared previously. We are doing everything we can to support our Newton Rigg staff and students during these challenging times.”
Askham Bryan College has six campuses in the North of England including Newton Rigg. Its main site is based in York. Around 117 staff and 888 learners are based at Newton Rigg Campus. They include 667 further education students and 221 apprentices.
Student recruitment and enrolment, and courses from September 2020 to July 2021, are continuing as planned. Newton Rigg staff will remain in post until next summer.
The College is still accepting applications for this September, and will continue to communicate with current and prospective students on a range of progression options beyond July 2021.
For courses where the same provision is offered at the College’s York campus, students may be able to progress on to further study there following a successful interview and subject to place availability.
Alternatively, students may wish to explore options at other colleges regionally. Askham Bryan College has offered to support students, who wish to explore other options, by approaching other providers on their behalf.
The College is also in discussions with other education providers across the region about progression opportunities beyond July 2021.
At the same time, the Further Education Commissioner (FEC) team is coordinating a new Newton Rigg Strategic Review, which is exploring finding a potential new owner for the site. This separate process, announced in June 2020, does not affect Askham Bryan College governing body’s final decision.
The Newton Rigg Strategic Review is different to the earlier Newton Rigg Review, also coordinated by the FEC team, which ran from March 2020 until May 2020 and focussed on educational provision at Newton Rigg Campus and in the wider area.
The objectives of the Newton Rigg Strategic Review are to promote the opportunity and test the ability of any interested parties to fund and deliver their detailed business plan and proposals for the site.
The FEC team, part of the Department for Education, is coordinating expressions of interest, which will be assessed against set criteria. Expressions of interest must be submitted to the FEC team by the end of August 2020.
Askham Bryan College purchased Newton Rigg Campus in 2011. Since then, the College has invested considerable funds and absorbed financial losses. Given that the College is an exempt charity the governors, as trustees, have a legal obligation to secure the best outcome for the charity.
If no parties meet the expressions of interest criteria, it is anticipated the Newton Rigg Strategic Review would conclude this summer 2020. Any parties that do meet the criteria will be required to submit a detailed business plan and proposal bid this autumn 2020.