The Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) and Herefordshire Council have announced the sale of the College’s Southern campus to the council, helping to secure the future of the RNC and support higher education in the county.

The campus in College Road, Hereford is the established home to a number of highly-regarded higher education courses and programmes. The purchase of the site by the council means the campus will continue to be used as a centre for excellence in higher education offering shared facilities for students from the RNC and those enrolled in other higher education courses in Hereford.

The site affords a unique opportunity, with the co-location of existing buildings, facilities and services with the potential for further developments in the future.

The RNC has been in existence for almost 150 years and has a fantastic history and legacy of providing top quality education, training and life skills to students with visual impairments. It is a national asset and a source of pride for Hereford.

Despite its outstanding track record, the College has seen student numbers decline to unsustainable levels. This has been driven by changes to the commissioning and funding of education for students with special educational needs. These external pressures have reached a point where the College needs to make very tough decisions if it is to survive as a national provider.

The sale of its Southern campus is part of a three year plan to overcome external financial pressures and ensure a successful future for the College.

Chief Executive of Herefordshire Council, Alistair Neill, said:

“The council’s decision to purchase the RNC Southern campus is in line with its priorities of supporting the growth of our local economy, through the development of skills locally and investing in the future of higher education in the county.

“We are excited about the opportunities this provides. The site has the potential to offer a shared space for students from the established and emergent higher education providers; and to further strengthen the partnership working that already exists between the council and key education partners.”

Professor Tamar Thompson OBE, Chair of the RNC Board of Governors said:

“The decision to sell part of our campus has not been made lightly and we wouldn’t be going ahead if we were not certain that it is in the best interests of our current and future students, staff and parents or guardians.

“The RNC Board is passionate about the College and its students, and we are confident that this step can help secure the RNC’s future for the next generation of young people with visual impairments.

“We are delighted that the site is being purchased by Herefordshire Council and we are looking forward to our future partnership.”

Following confirmation of the legal completion of the sale today, Herefordshire Council will take ownership of the buildings in time for the start of the 2019 autumn term.