College takes over Cumbria institution

Askham Bryan College has announced ambitious expansion plans which will see it take control of another major northern college.

The York-based institution is to take over the University of Cumbria’s Newton Rigg campus, near Penrith, from the end of July this year.

Both colleges have now reached a final agreement for the transfer of further education courses, with bosses at Askham Bryan planning a £2.4m investment into the Cumbria-based site.

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The money will be spent on the college’s farm, the revitalisation of degree and diploma courses – particularly in agriculture and countryside management – and the establishment of a joint rural research institute.

Liz Philip, Askham Bryan College’s principal, said: “We have been successfully providing education for the farmers and landowners of tomorrow from our York campus for more than six decades and are very much looking forward to ensuring that Newton Rigg becomes a centre of agricultural excellence.

“My vision is that, together, Askham Bryan and Newton Rigg will be a dynamic and innovative force driving agricultural excellence in the north of England.”

Reflecting its courses at York, Askham Bryan plans to run degree and diploma courses for full and part-time students, ranging across pure agriculture, sustainable land management through to environmental technology and also equine.

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In addition, there will be courses for apprentices and a rural research institute will be established, run in conjunction with the university. It is also anticipated that there will be a range of general courses, for example, child care and sport. The name Newton Rigg College will remain unchanged.

Ms Philip denied that the acquisition was an attempt by Askham Bryan to asset-strip the site, saying such rumours were “totally wrong”.

She said: “On the contrary, we plan a £2.4m investment into the site and particularly the farm, which we will re-stock with dairy cattle and upgrade with new facilities.

“Our commitment to providing the Cumbrian community with a first-class agricultural college is total.”

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Askham Bryan provides a range of courses, from introductory lessons for school-leavers to honours degrees. The college also operates centres across Yorkshire – in Guisborough, Bedale, Harrogate, Scarborough, Thirsk and Wakefield.

Committment to courses

The University of Cumbria’s vice-chancellor, Professor Graham Upton, said: “Courses at the Newton Rigg campus continue to generate strong interest from potential students.

“The traditional land-based subjects on offer remain extremely popular and we have some incredibly dedicated and well-qualified people who continue to respond to the needs of young people in the area and these will be run by Askham Bryan College.

“Both the university and Askham Bryan College are committed to ensuring the continuation of these courses to the benefit of students, community and the region as a whole.”