IfA silent on support for board member Dame Asha following resignation

The Institute for Apprenticeships has refused to say if it is backing its board member Dame Asha Khemka, after she resigned from West Nottinghamshire College on Monday.  

The former principal was one of just two FE college leaders appointed to the IfA’s board in January last year.

FE Week reported on Monday that she had stepped down from the top job at WNC following a “special meeting of the board of governors” held “in light of the current challenges faced by the college”.

It was forced to go to the Education and Skills Funding Agency in July for a £2.1 million bailout, just 48 hours before it would have run out of cash.

Despite this, the IfA has so far remained silent about Dame Asha’s position on its board – despite numerous enquiries.

However, its website still lists her as one of 10 board members.

According to the job advert for the role, advertised by the former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in June 2016, applicants should be “senior figures with expertise in business, employer representatives, academics, and other senior representatives with expertise in particular aspects of apprenticeships and skills”.

Dame Asha is also a member of the Cabinet Office’s education honours committee, which is responsible for reviewing honours nominations for people involved in education.

This is a fixed-term position, and the Cabinet Office has confirmed she will remain in post until her contract expires.

Dame Asha was one of the most highly-paid principals in the FE sector, with a remuneration package worth £262,000 in 2016/17.

In addition she received £15,000 a year for her role on the IfA board. Following her appointment last year, a spokesperson for WNC refused to say whether Dame Asha would keep the money herself or give it to the college.

The college has hit financial troubles in the past year.

Earlier this year WNC blamed changes in apprenticeship subcontracting rules, which reduced their income from management fees, for having to cut more than 100 jobs in an effort to make £2.7 million in savings.

Board minutes from April say the college was running low on reserves which were below the £9 million set in its banking covenants. 

The minutes also reveal the college’s worryingly low cash days – the number of days an organisation can continue to pay its operating expenses given the amount of cash available.

For colleges these are benchmarked by the FE Commissioner at 25 but they sat at just 11 for WNC, according to the minutes.

The college’s accounts for 2016/17 have yet to be published.