Otley merges with Suffolk New College as expansion plans continue

Otley College has merged with Suffolk New College to become Suffolk Rural Picture: JOHN NICE

Otley College has merged with Suffolk New College to become Suffolk Rural Picture: JOHN NICE - Credit: JOHN NICE

An agricultural college is set for a new future after changing its name during a merger with Ipswich-based Suffolk New College.

The former Otley College, first opened in 1970, has now become Suffolk Rural as of January 1.

Based nine miles outside of Ipswich, the college will continue to offer students agricultural courses ranging from animal management to horticulture, as well as plumbing, joinery and trowel trade studies.

The switch comes as the Ipswich-based college aims to reach more in need of education and training across the wider county, with a Leiston site having opened in 2018, and a further campus hoped to open in Halesworth this September.

Suffolk New College principal, Viv Gillespie, said: "I am pleased that we have completed the process successfully and that we will be working with students, staff and stakeholders to help develop an exciting business plan and develop more opportunities and courses that will fly the flag for all of our courses that we support in Ipswich, Leiston and at Suffolk Rural."


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Ms Gillespie added the college understands the importance of farming, horticulture and rural crafts and the "crucial" role they play in the local economy.

During a consultation process for the merger last year, 75% of the 110 students, parents staff and local employers voted in favour of the proposal.

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Craig Shimmon, marketing manager at Suffolk New College, added: "We are delighted to be working with Suffolk Rural.

"We will naturally be respecting the amazing 50 year history and legacy that Otley created, as we get set to turn the page on an exciting new era for us all."

It is hoped the merger will help provide a wider and more accessible range of progression routes into higher education for students, while allowing for a greater sharing of expertise between the colleges.

In Otley, further ideas for expansion include the addition of retail outlets to make for a "shop window" for the farming industry.

Easton College, which had formerly partnered with Otley, has now become part of City College Norwich and will too continue to offer a range of agricultural courses.

City College Norwich have plans with the University of East Anglia to open a specialist higher education centre at the Norfolk village institution.

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