Amersham & Wycombe College has been placed into ‘administered status‘ by Skills Minister Nick Bowles, following an eight year deterioration in its finances.
The college with 3,500 students studying at campuses in Amersham and Flackwell Heath was visited by two advisers from the FE Commissioner Dr David Collins’s office in September 2015.
They advisers identified a series of problems including falling student numbers as well as ‘pressures on its main funding streams, weak leadership and management and poor financial management‘.
‘Operating deficits up to and including 2018/19‘ were expected by the college, which has a current Skills Funding Agency (SFA) allocation of just under £3.5m and that its recovery plan therefore did not ‘present a picture of a stand-alone viable institution‘.
In a letter to the college corporation chair, Jenese Joseph, dated Friday October 16th October 2015 Mr Boles told Ms Joseph: ‘The FE Commissioner’s key finding is that while the college has a recovery plan covering both financial and quality issues, this is not sufficiently robust and the targets set are not sufficiently focused to bring about improvement in a timely manner.
In addition, relationships between the interim executive team and the governing body are not strong. The FE Commissioner has thus recommended that the college should not be left to manage its own future and should be placed into administered status.‘
Mr Boles added: ‘I have carefully considered the FE Commissioner’s assessment, and accept all the recommendations he makes. I am therefore placing Amersham and Wycombe College into administered college status with immediate effect.‘
The commissioner’s advisers were sent out to the college by Mr Boles in light of its 2013 SFA notice of concern for financial health and also a string of grade three (satisfactory/requires improvement) inspection results from Ofsted.
The commissioner’s subsequent report states that the ‘SFA has recently indicated that it has additional concerns over the college’s financial control‘.
Dr Collins also reported that the college did not have a full strategic plan and that ‘no dashboards or key performance indicators‘ were regularly presented to the board.
Dr Collins added: ‘Budget control has clearly not been adequate in the past. The interim financial controller expressed an opinion that there had not been an appropriate level of understanding of budgetary matters. The internal auditors could give no assurance in their annual report and rated this ‘red’.‘