Staff at the borough's largest college are under review as a result of financial problems

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Waltham Forest College Principal Robin Jones Waltham Forest College Principal Robin Jones

The principal of the borough’s largest college has admitted jobs are on the line due to financial problems and a planned multi-million pound redevelopment is on hold.

As reported in the Guardian last week, Waltham Forest College in Forest Road, Walthamstow, has a deficit of £2million.

Finance director Debbie Greenidge stepped down in August before union members passed a vote of no confidence in the leadership team.

This prompted the college, which has 10,000 students, to rule out the loss of teaching staff, but other employees face an uncertain future.

While Principal Robin Jones admitted the college faces a number of challenges, he reassured students that no courses would be cut, but admitted there was also uncertainty over planned redevelopment.

An application for £10million to further redevelop the college was not approved by the Government’s Skills Funding Agency and part of another project has also been shelved.

A planned new engineering centre due to be opened in the summer of 2014 has been put on hold due to lack of funding.

Mr Jones said: “There has not been a cut in any course and there will not be any cuts.

"The students come first and it is vital we continue to offer the same level of courses.

"It is our intention in the near future to recruit more teaching staff where it is needed.

"Over the last five years, we have spent money to redevelop the college and this has been completely neccessary for us in terms of competing with other colleges and in guaranteeing students have the best possible experience."

Mr Jones said there were a number of reasons for the financial problems, citing cuts in government funding.

He added: "Since 2010 the Government has been reducing our funding year-on-year so to try and ameliorate this, we sought additional funding.

"Our 2012/13 budget was prepared using what we know and what we hope to gain and we were over-optimistic which meant we reported a deficit."

The college was also temporarily barred from taking foreign students in 2012, costing the college £700,000.

Mr Jones said this was due to a high number of applicants in south-east Asia having Visa applications refused, and the college successfully challenged the decision, but it was too late for enrolment.

The consultation on staff redundancies began on Wednesday and ten employees have taken voluntary severance, including one member of senior management.

The financial review is due to end on March 7.

Comments (1)

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11:39pm Thu 6 Feb 14

mdj says...

Not the first time; will it be the last?

'One million and counting
Staff face redundancy as extent of college deficit becomes clear. By Francis Beckett

Francis Beckett
The Guardian, Tuesday 24 April 2001 17.58 BST'
Not the first time; will it be the last? 'One million and counting Staff face redundancy as extent of college deficit becomes clear. By Francis Beckett Francis Beckett The Guardian, Tuesday 24 April 2001 17.58 BST' mdj
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