A SALISBURY college will close after low demand has made it “no longer financially viable to continue”.

Chiefs at South Wiltshire UTC, on Wilton Road, announced on Tuesday that they had made the decision to close the college in August 2020.

Nevertheless, in a letter sent out to parents, it was confirmed that current students will still be able to finish their two-year courses.

But, those set to join in September will now need to find another place to study.

Principal Joe Mulligan said: “We have always strived to provide the best possible education for our learners and I would like to thank all who have been part of the South Wiltshire UTC community, for all their support over the years.”

The UTC first opened its doors to students in September 2015, after taking over the former police station as part of a £8 million refurbishment.

Less than three years later, in April 2018, it failed its first Ofsted report, with inspectors rating the college ‘inadequate’.

Doug Gale, Chair of South Wiltshire UTC Trust, added: “Closing South Wiltshire UTC is incredibly disappointing for all who have worked hard to give students a technical education option within Salisbury and the surrounding area.

“We recognise this is really disappointing news for current students, prospective students and staff. Please be assured that we will do all we can to make sure staff, students and parents receive all the information and support they need.”

Salisbury MP John Glen said: “I have always been a strong supporter of University Technical Colleges (UTCs).

“Unfortunately, the South Wiltshire UTC faced a number of specific challenges which resulted in a low number of students on the roll,” added Mr Glen.

“This situation would likely have taken a number of years to turn around. Rather than let the situation drift with no guarantee of success, the Department for Education (DfE) and the Board of Governors have therefore taken the decision to close the UTC in August 2020.

“I met with DfE officials on Monday to ensure that existing students currently finishing year 10 and 12 will be fully supported to the conclusion of their studies next summer.”

The announcement has drawn shock from local organisations.

President of Salisbury and District Chamber of Commerce, Andy Rhind-Tutt, said: “We feel very sorry for the students at the UTC.

“With the Army rebasing likely to bring 4,000 additional people into south Wiltshire, many with children and spouses looking for education and employment opportunities , this could not be at a worse time and again questions how much local input, leadership, delegation and support was given when this project was conceived, delivered and hit hard times.”

Salisbury City Council leader Jeremy Nettle added he was “saddened” by the decision, and questioned whether the starting age of 14 “was the biggest hurdle” in attracting students to the college.

“Interested parties” are now being sought to provide views on the closure process.

These should be emailed to: views@wiltshire-utc.co.uk