LESS than half the number of courses offered at Winsford’s college campus last year have been kept on since September – although Hartford's offering has increased.

Figures released following a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Guardian show that only 26 courses are now being offered at Warrington and Vale Royal College’s site in Winsford, compared to 63 in 2016-17.

But the college is reassuring prospective students that it has big plans for the site’s future – including the launch of A-Level courses on the campus, plus new courses earmarked for 2018-19 following fresh support for the Winsford site from stakeholders.

Meanwhile, the number of courses on the Hartford site has risen by 33 – from 391 in 2016-17 to 424 in 2017-18 – meaning the number of courses offered by the former Mid Cheshire College sites has fallen by four following the merger with Warrington Collegiate.

Nichola Newton, principal and chief executive, told the Guardian that the figures must be looked at alongside the college’s new apprenticeship standards and technical qualifications, which she claims meet the skills needs for science and engineering in particular.

She said: “The diversification of the college’s curriculum offer will ensure a more holistic range of academic and technical pathways, offering students a unique opportunity to bridge between the two at an appropriate point in their studies.

“The college will utilise its employer links, high quality resources and specialist staff to enable students to participate in technical electives, high quality internships and work-based action research projects to complement their studies.

“The college aims to be a vanguard for the reform of further education, becoming a centre of excellence in the delivery of academic and technical programmes of study.”

The FOI request also revealed that the number of courses offered in Warrington has dropped by 166 – from 1,756 to 1,590.

Cllr Brian Clarke, Cheshire West and Chester Council member for Winsford Wharton, is the council’s cabinet member for economic development and infrastructure.

He is fully behind the college’s plans for Winsford – which include collaboration with the town’s employers and Winsford Academy.

“Having looked at all the plans coming from the college I’m very confident,” he told the Guardian.

“They have been in contact with different business on the industrial estate to make sure they are offering the courses that meet their needs.

“The college is offering buses to the other campuses, and by working in partnership with Warrington it can share tutors and resources for our students.”