Minister looking at plan to rescue financially-stricken K College
Skills minister Matthew
Hancock. Picture by Andrew Parson
by Tim Collins
A rescue package for the financially-stricken K College is under
consideration by a government minister.
Skills minister Matthew Hancock has received proposals to aid
the ailing education provider in an attempt to secure the future of
several of the college's sites throughout Kent.
K College has campuses across the county - including Ashford,
Folkestone, Dover, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.
A government task force was sent in to the crisis-hit college
late last year as part of moves to help it sort out its huge
It has an underlying deficit of £6.4million - the
amount expected to be left after the college's recovery plan drawn
up when it fell £16million into the red.
The news of Mr Hancock's involvement emerged during a meeting on
economic developments within Ashford, held at the Invicta Chamber
Ashford MP Damian Green revealed the plans following a
discussion on the future of the college's Ashford campus, and the
stalled development of its new building in Elwick Road.
An artist's impression of
how the new K College campus at Elwick Road, Ashford, could
During his presentation, head of planning Richard Alderton
outlined the council's position.
He said: "Further and higher education remain key priorities for
the future of Ashford.
"I think it is hugely sad that financial difficulties have meant
we couldn't deliver the project we had all envisaged, but it
remains a highly important project."
Paul Andrews, managing director of employment website Jobs in
Kent, highlighted a need in the town for more educational
"There seems to have been a huge emphasis today on buildings,
but it's not just about that," he said.
"One of the biggest challenges we face here in Ashford is a
skills shortage. We need a college here, and more."
Mr Green said: “I spoke to Matthew Hancock about proposals for a
“A lot of
people have recommended that K College concentrate efforts to keep
Ashford’s further education provision, perhaps by scaling back or
closing other campuses in the county, or possibly looking
"Whatever the case, there is a need for a certain amount of
freedom, and the longer we leave the Elwick Road site derelict, the
longer it remains a drain.”
Phil Frier, interim principal of K College and pictured right,
said: "I understand that the MP for Ashford was briefed
confidentially by the minister on some of the discussions that K
College has been having with his department.
"However, the final proposal regarding a timescale and process
for reaching eventual solutions was only sent to the minister on
Tuesday and it contains no actual details of proposals mentioned by
"As a caring employer, K College is committed to informing staff
first if there are any proposed changes at the college. I have told
our staff that I will tell them face to face when there is anything
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