Merger in the only way to save Barnfield college, council told

Barnfield College, New Bedford Road PNL-170329-134200001
Barnfield College, New Bedford Road PNL-170329-134200001

A merger is the only option for a further education college in Luton, if it is to have a viable future, it has been claimed.

Barnfield College is looking to link up with West Herts College, which is based in Watford and Hemel Hempstead.

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

“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”.

She said: “It’s increasingly difficult to balance the budget for any college.

“Everyone is fighting to attract students because student numbers bring in the income, so competition between colleges is very fierce.

“For Barnfield, which is particularly small, to compete effectively across that landscape it really does need to have some firm financial foundations under its belt.”

Barnfield College owns three sites, Bute Street car park, its New Bedford Road site and Enterprise Way.

Stopsley councillor Meryl Dolling said: “All that land and asset will simply transfer to West Herts and from a Lutonian perspective I find that quite difficult in terms of possible asset stripping.”

West Herts was chosen by Barnfield for the merger ahead of Bedford College.

The process is scheduled for February 1, with Barnfield becoming part of the West Herts College group. 

Farley councillor Mahmood Hussain said: “We do want you to be very successful because it’s in the interests of the children of Luton.”