BOLTON College has confirmed it is planning to to merge with the University of Bolton as part of a shake-up of further education.

The news ends weeks of speculation over the college's plans.

The merger could take place as early as October 1, subject to a consultation on the proposals which is already underway.

The proposed merger is part of a Government shake-up of post-16 education to create “fewer, often larger, more resilient and efficient providers".

The news comes as Bury College confirmed it is proposing to also become part of the university under the same shake-up.

Bolton College bosses say that the merger would "safeguard the college" and create a "unique institution".

Andrew Roberts, chairman of governors at Bolton College, said:"We are currently consulting with all of our stakeholders, including staff and students, on the proposed merger of Bolton College with the University of Bolton.

"Having gone through the Greater Manchester Area Based Review process and assessed several options, Bolton College governors are unanimous that this is the best option to safeguard the College and its future in serving students, the communities of Bolton and all stakeholders of the College.

"A key aspect of this model is that we will be able to protect the identity and name of Bolton College. Our current vision, mission and values are already closely aligned with those of the University and our intention is not to change our strategic direction, but to collaborate to enable further growth and strength."

It has been agreed in principle that Bolton College is represented on the university’s board of governors

He added: "For several years, we have worked effectively in partnership with the university on many different levels, not least of which is as founding members of the Bolton Education Zone.

"We look forward to further strengthening and building on this relationship and collaborating with Bolton Council to meet the skills needs of the town, its residents and its employers, and to meet the wider skills priorities within Greater Manchester."

Mr Roberts is calling on residents and representatives of organisations within Bolton to complete the consultation survey, "and help to steer the future of what will be a unique institution for Bolton, Greater Manchester and beyond".

The consultation document and the survey are on the Bolton College website

The consultation will run until June 30.