TWO colleges are currently in talks to offer a lifeline to students at Newton Rigg which faces being closed down for good this year.

Aspects of Myerscough College and Ullswater Community College's school provision could be extended to provide agriculture and animal management programmes.

Ullswater, near Penrith, is the biggest feeder high school for land-based education to the Newton Rigg campus, offering Level two (GCSE equivalent) programmes in Animal Studies and Agriculture. Extending this offer into the sixth form could provide an essential lifeline to allow land-based education to continue, both colleges say.

Newton Rigg College, near Penrith, is set to close for good this summer with the loss of over 100 jobs, after two last-ditch attempts to keep the 125-year-old agriculture college open failed earlier this week.

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

But Penrith and The Border MP Neil Hudson said he wanted to assure the local student community that there was still hope for the continuity of educational provision in Penrith."I am pleased that Myerscough College and Ullswater Community College have agreed to come together and work with local stakeholders to secure local educational provision in Cumbria.

"This offers a lifeline for the community while we all work together to secure the farms and campus for a new longer-term Newton Rigg College entity,” he said.

Alison Robinson, Principal of Myerscough College, said she wanted to see land-based education flourish in Cumbria."We believe that this continuity of provision will provide clarity for new students and a number of students progressing with their studies."

Stephen Gilby, Headteacher of Ullswater Community College, commented “Newton Rigg College here in Penrith has been an important destination for significant numbers of our pupils and we are very happy to be working with Myerscough, Dr Hudson and local stakeholders on this innovative solution. Ullswater Community College is at the heart of the community in Penrith and we firmly believe that this partnership can be built upon to sustain land-based education in Penrith, Eden and Cumbria long into the future.”

In Cumbria, Myerscough has recently built a successful partnership with Furness College, in the south of the county, offering City and Guilds vocational study programmes in the animal sector at Levels two and three.

Discussions on the proposal will continue in the 'coming weeks and months' between Myerscough College, Ullswater Community College and key partners in the region.

Meanwhile three Cumbrian peers, Dale Campbell-Savours, Lord David Clark of Windermere and Baroness Sue Hayworth are all working to secure a Parliamentary Inquiry into the finances of Newton Rigg owners' Askham Bryan.