Principal under investigation given £75k for loss of office

He lost his job after an audit revealed £5m worth of overclaimed funding

He lost his job after an audit revealed £5m worth of overclaimed funding


A college principal who was suspended after an audit revealed £5 million worth of overclaimed funding received a £75,000 pay-out last year.   

Paul Di Felice’s compensation for loss of office was revealed in Ruskin College’s recently published 2021 accounts.   

De Felice spent nine years at the residential college until he was suspended pending an investigation in May 2021.   

The Education and Skills Funding Agency is clawing back £5.35 million from the college after overclaims for adult education budget and residential bursary funding were found.   

Graham Morley was parachuted in to lead Ruskin in the interim until it merged with the University of West London in August to secure its financial sustainability.   

Ruskin College said Di Felice’s settlement, made after he officially left the college in June 2021, was “made in accordance with contractual obligations that were in place prior to the University of West London’s involvement”.   

But the college and its university partner refused to comment on the outcome of the investigation into De Felice.   

Ruskin College has been subject to a financial notice to improve since 2014.   

The notice was reissued in November 2020 and the Department for Education placed the college in supervised status following a report by then-FE Commissioner Richard Atkins, published in October, which said the provider faced an “uncertain future”.   

The Oxford-based college, originally founded in 1899, focuses on adult learners and its offer includes Access to HE diplomas, English for speakers of other languages courses, and trade union courses accredited by the TUC.   

It has historic links to Oxford University and is renowned for educating working-class people, especially those in the trade union movement.   

Ruskin College generated £1.4 million of income in 2021. It recorded an operating deficit of £944,000, after allowing for “restructuring costs” of £159,000 and profit on disposal of one of its bases of operations, the listed Stoke House, of £1.7 million.   

The college’s latest accounts state that Ruskin has “not been able to recover from some significant solvency and financial problems during 2018/19 and 2019/20”, with the key issues being a “lack of available liquidity, the impact of Covid on student recruitment and retention, staff turnover, ongoing ESFA clawbacks and an increase in pension liability”.   

But due to the merger with UWL, the college “will have adequate funding to continue in operational existence as a going concern”.   

A UWL spokesperson said the university is “focused on reinvigorating Ruskin College so that we can provide opportunities for adults to learn and grow, regardless of background and circumstance”.   

De Felice did not respond to requests for comment. 

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  1. John Griffiths

    So, let me get this right. You are held responsible for significant debt, end completely totalled the history of the institution you were appointed to lead. You get suspended – and pick up £75k for your ‘service’. Hmm……Friends with Boris and the Tories, are you? Utterly disgraceful.