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Two bidders chosen to take over the running of debt-laden K College

Two bidders have been chosen to take over the campuses of a troubled FE college that racked up millions of pounds worth of debt.

K College in Kent, which has around 15,000 students and more than 800 staff, was formed in April 2010 by the merger of West Kent and South Kent Colleges, but the merger failed and left the college more than £16 million in the red.

The new college inherited the debts of the previous two institutions, and a series of financial issues added to its woes over the following years.

To compound its problems, it was rated inadequate by Ofsted last December.

Last year it was announced that the college would be broken up and its five campuses taken over by other colleges.

Now K College has agreed that Hadlow College will run its Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Ashford campuses, while East Kent College will take over its Folkestone and Dover sites.

Phil Frier, interim principal of K College, said it was the start of a “new beginning” for students.

“We made a commitment to students from the outset that no matter what name was given to their college, their education would continue, and we are proud to have delivered that,” he said.

Paul Hannan, principal of Hadlow College, said the college was “thrilled” with the successful bid.

“Over the last year we have received great support for our work from all the local communities involved,” he said. “This will be a fantastic opportunity to create ‘outstanding’ provision in each town to mirror that provided at Hadlow College. 

“This will provide excellent further and higher education opportunities for the local people, for business and for employers.”

Principal of East Kent College, Graham Razey, said: “We will ensure high-quality, vocational and technical education programmes for students in this economically improving part of Kent through well-funded and well-managed centres of learning.”

K College will soon launch a public consultation regarding the dissolution of its corporation in line with the transfer of its provision to the new providers.

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