Hull College Group is preparing to shed up to 231 full-time jobs in an effort to balance its books.

In a statement that appeared online yesterday, chief executive Michelle Swithenbank warned that “some difficult decisions have to be made” to regain stability amid longstanding financial troubles.

The FE commissioner reported in February last year that HCG’s finances remained precarious after the Skills Funding Agency had issued a notice of concern in November 2016.

“We need to change the way we do things which is why the Hull College Group team has been looking at new ways of working,” said Ms Swithenbank.

“As a result, a restructure is being put forward which involves a number of proposed redundancies.

“This potentially will affect up to 231 full-time equivalent posts across our sites in Goole, Harrogate and Hull, including HCUK Training.”

Anyone affected by redundancy will be offered “our full-support and guidance” throughout the process, she claimed, including interview training and counselling.

“We are also working with major stakeholders to look at redeployment opportunities for our staff,” she added.

“To strengthen and protect our unique Hull city centre, Goole and Harrogate resource, we are also making changes to our curriculum so it best meets the needs of our local communities.

“From September this year, we will offer an improved range of courses in both further and higher education, including a number of new foundation degrees.”

The FE commissioner’s report warned that HCG’s “operating performance, as measured by surplus/deficit after interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation costs has amounted to a cumulative deficit of around £10 million over the past four years”, while “a further deficit in excess of £1 million is forecast for the current year”.

The notice was issued because the SFA had rated the group ‘inadequate’ for financial health based on its 2016-to-2018 financial plan, and because it had requested exceptional financial support.

The then-senior leadership team had not addressed key issues, including the steady decline in financial performance and a loss of market share.

There was said to be concern at all levels of the organisation that it “lacks strategic vision and strong, resolute leadership and that this is frustrating and demotivating for staff”.

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    • Leonard Wicks

      It might be good to see a college taking a proactive approach to finance, but had successive governments not insisted on marketising a public service and neglecting FE (traditionally the poor relation when it comes to funding) the college wouldn’t need to lose so much of its intellectual resources.

      People who have invested a lifetime in teaching will and CPD to remain current will be lost from this institution and that will be to the detriment of this region.

      Never mind pumping endless money into UTCs which fail when they are due to self sustain. Never mind glitzy buildings and fancy Academy trusts which are now also running into problems with finance. The investment in the workforce of this country needs channeling through the people who have been doing it well for years, the traditional FE colleges. Don’t even get me started on levy pots and the calamity that is apprenticeships!

      This college might be one of the first to deal with its issues, but you can bet it won’t be the last.

      Whilst it might on one hand seem good that measures are being taken to bring finances under control, please spare a thought for the 231 possible FTE employees who will be at risk of losing their livelyhood. This is the 6th wave of redundancies for this institution, but it is also the harshest round of cuts too.

    • If they were pro-active they wouldn’t be in that mess, they’ve had a “cumulative deficit of around £10 million over the past four years”. Also, if they think a few Foundation Degrees at full cost are going to save their financial bacon then they are misreading their local market.

    • Thanks for your input Lisa that’s a huge comfort to the 231 staff about to lose their jobs due to years of mismanagement by senior leaders. I hope someone offers the same amount of sympathy to you should you ever find yourself in a similar situation.

  1. FELecturer

    “From September this year, we will offer an improved range of courses in both further and higher education, including a number of new foundation degrees.”

    How will they run more courses with 231 less staff?
    It looks like this college is destined to be like one I (recently) worked for; classes cancelled because there are no staff available, high teaching hours for staff teaching many different subjects, lecturers teaching subjects they are not qualified to teach and a generally chaotic place to work led by a management that don’t care about their staff.

    I feel for staff who are facing the threat of redundancy while having to work hard to keep the college going. 231 staff will lose their job and no doubt the remaining staff will have to absorb the work of the 231 that were made redundant.

    Our FE colleges are in danger of collapsing or becoming like a college in a third world nation.

  2. Concerned Educationalist

    Hull College Group is being restructured in a similar way to previous colleges that get a grade 4 at Ofsted but Hull in fact got a grade 2 on the new Ofsted framework only 24 months ago and so clearly the staff delivered to Ofsted’s high standards. However, the senior managers at that time were overseeing very poor fiscal management and it is now the staff who are effectively being punished for this management folly. These senior leaders have since found themselves new jobs and new high income streams… where is the accountability for these evidently poor leaders? The new CEO at Hull College Group fails to address this issue – she obviously can’t do anything about it – the staff at Hull deserve the truth to be acknowledged by the new leadership regime. Furthermore, Emma Hardy MP, for Hull West and Hessle, has got herself in the local paper pretending she cares by stating funding cuts had “hit Hull College hard” – this is incorrect and demonstrates that politicians know very little about education. All F.E. colleges have been hit hard by funding cuts but they subsequently cut their cloth accordingly. The former leadership at Hull College Group did not address the funding cuts when they happened and instead carried on regardless and we see the situation they are in now. Other colleges are not in the same situation because they planned financially. How do Hull College Croup know the new CEO can solve this problem? She has no proven experience in such a situation? She was a vice principal for a year – at best – and is now in a position to advise her new Hull College principal how to do her job… how can she mentor a new principal when she has not done that job herself? As it stands Hull College Group have a principal and a CEO who are new to their jobs and first timers in such a senior level with no one at Hull to support or mentor them. As it stands, Hull College Group have rolled the dice and are basing its survival on promises made in an interview… nothing else. Good luck to all at Hull College Group and those facing redundancy through no fault of their own.