HEREFORDSHIRE and Ludlow College has merged with another college in Shropshire.

The college has joined with North Shropshire College (NSC), supported by a government funding package.

The new merger will be called Herefordshire, Ludlow and North Shropshire College and will be governed by HLC’s board, boosted by representatives from North Shropshire.

HLC presently has a large vocational campus in Hereford, a land-based campus and farm at Holme Lacy, a sixth form college at Ludlow, and its apprenticeship arm, County Training.

NSC has campuses at Oswestry and Walford, Baschurch.

Ian Peake, the principal of the new institution, said: "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."

In 2016 NSC stopped offering A-levels in favour of vocational courses and apprenticeships but these will now return to the college.

The newly created college will be able to offer a rich, diverse curriculum and training opportunities throughout Shropshire and Herefordshire.

The funding for the merger was provided by the Transactions Unit of the Education and Skills Funding Agency with the agreement of the Department of Education and Treasury.

The substantial settlement will resolve NSC’s debt burden, fund a cost reduction programme and facilitate backlog maintenance work to enhance both campuses.

They plan to reduce running costs across the new college.

This will be the largest college in the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership area (Shropshire, Herefordshire, Telford and Wrekin).

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.”