Struggling Bicton agricultural college merges

Bicton College
Image caption Bicton faced closure in 2010 over £3m debts

A struggling Devon agricultural college is to merge with Cornwall College.

Bicton College in Devon announced the link-up with the 45,000-student Cornwall College after a review into its future.

Bicton, which has about 2,500 students and 300 staff, started in 1947, but in 2010 faced closure over £3m of debts.

Cornwall College, which includes the Duchy College's Rural Business School, said it was "hugely excited" about the move.

Philip Rees, chairman of Cornwall College board, said in a statement: "Both organisations bring extensive links and a shared passion for supporting the land-based sector in the South West.

"This merger will extend choice and access to land-based training, skills and research for more learners and employers across the region."

A formal merger is expected around the middle of next year.

Bicton spent £1.3m more than it received in income last year according to its accounts.

A spokeswoman said the "issue of historical debt would be resolved after the merger", but declined to go into more detail.

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