Barnfield College saved from financial troubles by merger with West Herts

Barnfield College has been saved from its financial troubles after a planned merger with West Herts College was finalised last week.

The college, which celebrates its 50th birthday this year, will continue to be known as Barnfield.

Barnfield Principal Cath Gunn, chair of governors Phil Thompson and West Herts Principal Gill Worgan

Barnfield Principal Cath Gunn, chair of governors Phil Thompson and West Herts Principal Gill Worgan

New courses have been devised for the next academic year and plans are to redevelop the campus.

“I am delighted to be announcing this merger and the opportunities it creates for Barnfield to serve the people of Luton,” said chairman of governors, Phil Thompson, who will lead a new board of governors for the merged college.

“Thriving towns like Luton deserve a college which grows with the local area. Working in partnership with our communities and employers will be a priority.

“We want Barnfield to be known for the contribution it makes to prosperity and productivity across Luton and the wider area.”

In April last year, Barnfield College was placed into administered status by the skills minister Anne Milton MP following serious concerns about its financial management, with serious losses reported in 2015/16 and 2016/17.

That spring, West Herts College won a tender process to merge with Barnfield.

“A merger is the only way Barnfield is going to continue,” said Gill Worgan, principal of West Herts College, later that year.

“Barnfield’s finances at the moment are difficult … they’re pressured,” she told a meeting of the borough council’s children’s services review group.

“It’s a very important next step for Barnfield College and the people of Luton to sustain their access to a general further education college.”

Councillors were told managing further education colleges is “as hard as it’s ever been financially”.

Barnfield principal Cath Gunn was appointed last year and is former deputy principal at West Herts College.

Following the merger, Barnfield states it will continue to focus on the communities of Luton as part of a college group which serves three major M1 towns: Luton, Hemel Hempstead and Watford.

>West Herts College has main campuses in Hemel Hempstead and Watford.