College to slash another 55 jobs in effort to save £2m

A college in financial crisis has announced plans to shed another 55 jobs in a move that is expected to save it £2.2 million annually.

West Nottinghamshire College has undergone a major restructure over recent years to try and find savings, with its staffing numbers falling from a high of 967 in 2013 to 744 last year – a 23 per cent drop.

At the end of February the college axed a further 75 jobs, and it told staff yesterday of a new consultation to make a further 55 redundant.

Crucially, it will ensure that we are sustainable moving forwards

“Unfortunately, 72 colleagues have been placed at risk of redundancy as part of proposals to lose 55 staff,” a spokesperson said.

“These are mainly in management and support roles, with very few direct teaching posts affected.

“This final phase has been informed by the curriculum-planning process for the 2019/20 academic year and will see the current breadth of provision retained at our campuses in Mansfield and Ashfield.”

However, the spokesperson added that the plans include the closure of the West Nottinghamshire College’s construction and employability training centre in Sheffield, which is “under-utilised and no longer viable”.

The college is in dire financial constraints. As FE Week revealed in March, the college’s government bailouts rocketed to more than £10 million in just six months.

Its main monetary issue was related to subcontracting rule changes that meant it had to drastically scale back on this provision and lose out on millions in management fees.

The financial strain surfaced in July 2018 when the college received an initial £2.1 million in exceptional financial support from the Education and Skills Funding Agency following the failed sale of its eLearning business bksb, which FE Week later revealed was requested just 48 hours before it was due to run out of cash.

West Notts’ 2017/18 accounts show that the college generated a £9.54 million deficit before gains and losses, up from £2.57 million the year before.

The turbulent year at West Notts has led to major leadership and governor changes. This included 14 new appointments to its board including a new chair, and a new interim principal after its former high-profile leader, Dame Asha Khemka, resigned in October.

We have worked hard to minimise the impact on students

The college ended the use of corporate credit cards for senior staff earlier this year, after FE Week revealed Asha had claimed more than £40,000 in expenses over five years.

The West Notts spokesperson said the proposed job losses are designed to bring “financial stability and ensure we are the right size to serve our communities”.

“In developing these proposals we have worked hard to minimise the impact on students, in particular on their teaching and learning, although some non-essential student-facing services will be delivered slightly differently,” he added.

“These changes are no reflection on our hard-working and dedicated staff, who have remained extremely professional during this difficult time. We are committed to supporting all those affected and will seek to place people into other roles wherever possible or help them find employment elsewhere.

“Although highly regrettable, the measures are expected to save £2.2m on our annual pay bill and are another crucial step towards our financial recovery.”