National Audit Office value-for-money study: Managing colleges’ financial sustainability

ASCL welcomes the opportunity to contribute to this study. We understand that the National Audit Office (NAO) is seeking views on whether the financial position of the college sector has improved since this was reported on in 2015; on how effective oversight and intervention arrangements have been; and on the DfE’s strategy for the long-term sustainability of the sector.
A number of our members have been personally affected by the intervention strategy, implemented in 2015 with the introduction of Area Reviews and again in 2019 with the implementation of the intervention regime. We are aware of a significant number of college leaders whose careers have ended abruptly as a direct result of intervention by the regulators within the framework of these policies.

While we understand that it is inevitable that a few of the financially weakest colleges are forced to merge, the reduction in the overall number of colleges in the Further Education and Skills sector by 26% between 2015 and 2019 (with only a 7.5% reduction in college debt)  has, in our view, been brutal. This has led, in some cases, to tragic personal consequences for the leaders concerned.

Full response to consultation