Fears are mounting that Cumbria University will be forced to sell two farms attached to its Newton Rigg Campus near Penrith to stay afloat.
The university needs to overcome a £20m deficit and is trying to come up with savings of £10m by July. Insiders have speculated that finance chiefs may consider selling the farms to meet this target.
The news has caused outrage among key rural figures in the county who argue the farms are a critical part of the land based economy Penrith, the Eden Valley and Cumbria as a whole. “Any attempt to separate these farms from the college would be a retrograde step,” Joe Harris of Brackenburgh Estates told the News and Star. “At one time Newton Rigg was regarded as one of the best agricultural colleges in the country – it should be taken back to it’s former excellence.”
The group has voiced their opinions in a letter to university bosses urging them to keep the farms stating that they were crucial to improving the college’s performance.