*Exclusive* Cornwall College principal Amarjit Basi resigns

The principal of Cornwall College has resigned, according to a statement from the chair of the board of governors exclusively revealed to FE Week.

Amarjit Basi, who has been principal and chief executive of The Cornwall College Group since 2013, will leave his post on July 31, when his deputy Raoul Humphreys will become acting chief executive and principal until a new permanent replacement has been found.

FE Week has seen a statement from Philip Rees, chair of governors at Cornwall College, about Mr Basi’s resignation, and expects the information to be released to staff and stakeholders at the college shortly.

It said: “It is with regret that the board of governors of Cornwall College has accepted the resignation of Amarjit Basi.

“Amarjit has been the principal and chief executive officer of the college for the last three years, during which he has led the college to change its direction and structures, delivered a very good Ofsted inspection outcome and overseen the merger with Bicton College.

“We wish him well with the next stage of his career in further and higher education.

“The Board of Governors will immediately put in place the process of recruiting a new principal and CEO, and in the meantime has asked Raoul Humphreys to become acting CEO and principal from when Amarjit leaves on 31 July 2016 until that process is complete.”

Cornwall College has been plagued with funding troubles in recent months, receiving a notice of concern from the Skills Funding Agency for in financial concern in April.

A spokesperson for the college told FE Week at the time: “The college was required to give a three year financial forecast, which has been in place since last summer.”

Then in May, FE Week reported that the University and College Union (UCU) had called on Mr Basi to take a pay cut to show solidarity with up to 60 staff set to lose their jobs through cutbacks at the college.

The college told FE Week that the cuts were “part of reductions to back office and management to reduce our cost base, as well as some teaching posts, which are affected due to reduced recruitment on some courses”.

FE Week has also seen a comment from Mr Basi on his decision to leave Cornwall College, saying: “I have found my three years at the College both rewarding and challenging, and throughout my time I have been privileged to work with many outstanding colleagues.

“At the same time, those who are close to me will recognise that the past few months have highlighted for me, that my true passion lies in teaching, learning and organisational development, and it is this direction that I wish to pursue the next stage of my career.”

Mr Basi’s leadership has been singled out for criticism in the past, on top of the recent challenges faced by Cornwall College.

In 2015, a report from the FE Commissioner condemned what was described as his “expansionist policy” while at the helm of his previous place of work, New College Nottingham (NCN).

Sir David Collins, who visited NCN in February last year, said: “During its recent history in each year since 2006/07, the college had delivered an underlying surplus until 2013/14 when it recorded a significant deficit, the magnitude of which was not anticipated by the senior management team and not communicated to governors.

“There were a number of reasons for this deterioration in the college’s financial position but the key ones were the expansionist policy of the previous principal, which involved diversification into a number of unprofitable non-core activities.”

During Mr Basi’s time as principal, NCN became a founding member of The Gazelle Group, an association of colleges which cost £35,000 a year in membership fees.



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