FE Commissioner reports published for 3 struggling colleges

Three struggling colleges have had FE Commissioner intervention reports published today.

Among them was one for North Hertfordshire College, which recorded a £5 million deficit last year and received a £2.5 million government bailout, as revealed by FE Week last week.

Easton and Otley College also had its commissioner report published this afternoon after being rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted for the second time in a row last year.

A letter from skills minister Anne Milton following the reports on North Herts and Easton and Otley stated that she has now placed both colleges into “administered status”.

Ahead of its report, Easton and Otley this morning reiterated its “determination” to secure its long-term future.

John Ruskin College also had an FE Commissioner report published today. The college had been in early intervention by the Education and Skills Funding Agency following “assessment of the college’s financial plan which indicated a decline in financial health from ‘outstanding’ in 2015/16 to ‘satisfactory’ in 2017/18”.

It saw 16-19 classroom-based student numbers “decline by 12 per cent since 2016/17 with a further decline in 2017/18”.

“The scale of decline in core 16-19 and apprenticeship income has contributed to increasing operating deficits which will steadily erode the college’s cash reserves,” the FE Commissioner’s report said.

John Ruskin has also been “heavily reliant on apprenticeships funding with high levels of sub-contracting and was not successful in securing a non-levy allocation for new starts post-March 2018”, according to its report.

FE Week previously revealed that John Ruskin charged 39 per cent management fees in its subcontracting deals on average in 2016/17.

Richard Atkins (pictured), the FE Commissioner, was called in to visit each of the three colleges following concerns about their finances.

For more analysis of the reports see the next edition of FE Week which will be published tomorrow.