Harlow denies 'record deficit'

October 10, 1997

Employers and union forge new coalition for cash as further education collges plunge deeper into debt

RATIONALISATION and redundancies left Harlow College with the biggest deficit in the English further education sector, according to funding council figures, writes Alan Thomson.

But college principal David Ellerby has explained that the Pounds 7.4 million deficit shown in the Further Education Funding Council's accounts for 1995/96 is inflated due to accounting technicalities.

Mr Ellerby said that a Pounds 6.5 million investment in the college site had been lumped on to the deficit for 1995/96. Added to this the college had paid early retirement costs and redundancies for some 80 non-teaching staff.

The principal said that the college's deficit, at its largest, was actually Pounds 1 million. And he said that college projections were for a Pounds 300,000 surplus for 1997/98 and for surpluses for the following two years.

He said: "The college is a significantly stronger position than the FEFC figure suggests. However, if the sector and the college gets no financial assistance from 1999-2000 then it will be very difficult to meet our ambitions for widening participation."

Mr Ellerby praised the FEFC for its help in turning round the college's Pounds 1 million deficit. He said that one of the main thrusts of its recovery package had been to diversify its sources of income. It means, among other things, that the college has had to look for European cash and has had to offer courses tailored to local employer needs.

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