Troubleshooter takes over at Cornwall College Group

A troubled college group has appointed a seasoned troubleshooter as its interim principal.

Cornwall College Group lost its former head Raoul Humphreys earlier this month, when he stepped with immediate effect in an attempt to “expedite” a government bailout for the financially strained college.

Dr Elaine McMahon will now take over as interim principal and chief executive, having spent years working to alleviate the problems faced by various FE providers. 

Dr McMahon became interim principal at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College in January 2014, at a time when auditors discovered an “unexpected deficit” of £4.1 million in the college’s accounts.

She then joined City College Coventry shortly after it received its second ‘inadequate’ rating by Ofsted in November 2015, and helped to improve it to a grade three by February last year.

And she became principal of Kensington and Chelsea College following the unexpected resignation of Mark Brickley and his controversial selling of the Wornington Road campus to make way for housing.

Ian Tunbridge, chair of the board at Cornwall College, said he was “delighted” to announce Dr McMahon’s appointment.

“Elaine has more than 30 years’ experience in further and higher education in the UK and the USA,” he said. “We are confident that Elaine will continue the hard work taking place in ensuring the positive future for the group and the learners and communities it serves.”

Mr Humphreys had worked at Cornwall College for 24 years, and took over as principal and chief executive in April 2017. He took the top job following the resignation of former principal Amarjit Basi in July 2016, who received a pay out of over £200,000 when he left his post despite the college being plagued by financial warnings from the government.

Cornwall College Group received £4.5 million emergency funding in 2016/17 and £3.5 million in 2017/18. It is still waiting to hear if it has been successful in applying for a restructuring grant, rumoured to be in the region of over £30 million.

The group is currently participating in a “confidential” review of Cornwall’s post 16-education alongside Truro and Penwith College and Cornwall Council.