An impoverished college caught in a row over job cuts has received a £54 million bailout.
The eye-watering sum reportedly awarded to Hull College from the restructuring facility is believed to be the highest ever given to an English college.
A college representative let slip the sum during the University and College Union’s congress in Manchester today, and was later backed up by Julie Kelley, a union official.
A spokesperson for the college would not confirm the sum as “the terms of the grant agreement state that details are confidential and we are prohibited from discussing the funding awarded”.
A Department for Education spokesperson added: “We have provided Hull College with funding to help it move to a more secure financial position and ensure it can continue to provide further education and training to its local community.
“All applications for restructuring funding are robustly assessed.”
Ms Kelley told FE Week that the college got approval for the cash in early March, and one of its conditions would be to reduce its staffing costs to 65 per cent of turnover.
Hull’s UCU members are currently fighting plans to slash more than 200 full-time equivalent posts at the college.
The college has been subject to FE commissioner intervention since December 2016, after it was issued with a financial notice of concern from the Educational and Skills Funding Agency.
The restructuring facility is now regularly being used to bail out struggling colleges.
Administered by the transaction unit, it is designed to help colleges to implement area review changes, but it is increasingly deployed as a fund for emergency bailouts.
Lambeth College “expected” a £25 million bailout earlier this year, according to its 2016/17 accounts – even though at the time its proposed merger with London South Bank University had hit the buffers.
And Telford College of Arts and Technology was awarded £21 million from the fund to support its merger with New College Telford, which went through at the end of last year.
According to the most recent information published by the ESFA, more than £300 million was apportioned from the facility by the end of March.