Bids to secure future of Newton Rigg unsuccessful

Askham Bryan College's Newton Rigg campus is now set to close (Photo: Cumbria YFC)
Askham Bryan College's Newton Rigg campus is now set to close (Photo: Cumbria YFC)

Newton Rigg College is set to close for good after two last-ditch attempts to keep the 125-year-old agriculture college open failed.

The Further Education Commissioner's (FEC) strategic review has concluded that it had been unable to identify an organisation to continue delivering land based education at the site.

The Cumbria-based agri college was already earmarked to close in July 2021 after the present owners confirmed that it would no longer deliver education from the site.

Askham Bryan College said declining student numbers at the Penrith campus had left it with significant financial losses.

The FEC's review identified that most provision currently delivered at Newton Rigg can be provided in Cumbria by other providers.

In addition, other arrangements to ensure the continuity of land based provision in the area are being developed.

Askham Bryan College’s governing body accepted the recommendation at its meeting on Monday (8 February).

Currently, there are 536 students based at Newton Rigg, comprising 440 further education students, 96 apprentices and 117 staff.

Tim Whitaker, Principal of Askham Bryan College, said students and staff would be supported during this difficult time.

“Whilst it was very disappointing that the review didn’t receive a sustainable option for Newton Rigg, we welcome the plans for the preservation of land based provision in Cumbria.

"We will support and work with those involved in these plans, to ensure that current students and future applicants interested in land based courses have a smooth transition.”

The aim of the strategic review, which began in June 2020, was to test the ability of any interested party to deliver a detailed business plan to deliver further education at the site.

Askham Bryan College, which purchased Newton Rigg in 2011, had invested considerable funds and absorbed financial losses since then.