Troubled Hull College Group to de-merge one of three colleges

The cash-strapped Hull College Group is to offload one of its three colleges later this year.

Harrogate College, which currently makes up the group along with Goole and Hull College, will join the Leeds City College Group on August 1, after plans were signed off by the FE Commissioner and ESFA.

The move is part of Hull College Group’s five year “restructuring plan”.

The troubled institution is in a dire financial position, and recieved the biggest amount in restructuring grants – a total of £34,187,000 – from the ESFA last year to support its ‘fresh start’ arrangement and to help its “significant financial and operational turnaround”.

The college said in its 2016/17 accounts, which were published almost 18 months late, that it had overspent £10 million that year.

Its 2017/18 accounts show a surplus in the year of £22 million, which was “in respect of restructuring costs”.

Leeds City College Group is to now be called Luminate Education Group, which currently comprises of Leeds City College, Keighley College, Leeds College of Music and the White Rose Academies Trust.

Michelle Swithenbank, chief executive at Hull College Group, said: “We are handing over a strong local college which is in good health, to Luminate [Leeds City College Group]. We wish Harrogate College every future success.

“We’re focused on growing Hull College and Goole College and continuing to provide the best education and to serve our local communities.”

Colin Booth, current chief executive of Leeds City College and future chief executive of the Luminate Education Group, said: “Welcoming Harrogate College to the group is another step forward and will mean benefits for both students and staff. This news will mean that Luminate Education Group has responsibility for 30,000 students in total, further proving our role in nurturing the skills for the future in Yorkshire, and beyond.”

And Kevin Williams, principal at Harrogate College, added: “The college has benefited from the expertise of Hull College Group over a number of years. There is a great opportunity for us in the Luminate Education Group arising from geographic proximity and the opportunity to share best practice.

“Our recent campus redevelopment, alongside this news, puts us in great shape for the future.”