STUDENTS are set to enjoy an expanded curriculum at an Oswestry college.

North Shropshire College has announced a much-anticipated £27 million merger with Herefordshire and Ludlow College (HLC).

It has also announced that A-levels will return in September 2019 after being taken off the curriculum in 2016.

The merger is supported by a government funding package provided by the Transactions Unit of the Education and Skills Funding Agency with the agreement of the Department of Education and Treasury.

The transition funding will support the long-term financial sustainability of NSC’s campuses at Oswestry and Walford, Baschurch.

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

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

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

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

The larger £27 million institution will also benefit from reducing running costs so the highest possible proportion of its income will be directed to teaching and the support of students.

This will be the largest college in the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership area (Shropshire, Herefordshire, Telford and Wrekin) – well positioned to lever further revenue and capital funds for the benefit of its 6,000 full-time-equivalent students and apprentices.

Mr Peake, who is principal of the new institution, said: "I'm delighted that after many months of careful preparation this merger has happened. This is a very significant development that will greatly enhance the curriculum offer at North Shropshire College, particularly with the re-introduction of A level programmes in 2019, and the overall student experience."

Initially, A-level subjects will include psychology, environmental science, biology and film studies.

The aim is for students to take them alongside vocational courses, and Mr Peake said the college hoped to add further A-level subjects in 2020.