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Hadlow College placed in educational administration

By Luke May

A college has become the first into the country to go into educational administration, prompting an MP to get involved.

Hadlow College has been plunged into financial chaos, prompting Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat to call for students to be put first as it negotiates its problems.

Yesterday the Hadlow Group, which is responsible for 10,000 students, including those at Hadlow College, was told to improve its "inadequate financial health".

Tom Tugendhat on Hadlow College's administration

Now education secretary Damian Hinds has asked for Hadlow College, which is part of the group, which also includes Ashford College and West Kent College, to be placed in educational administration.

Mr Hinds made the request on the college's behalf.

Mr Tugendhat has been working with the Department for Education since the college's financial woes first came to light.

He said: "I’ve been deeply concerned by the accounts I have been hearing about the way public money has been used and have asked the skills minister to keep a very careful record as the investigation goes on.

Hadlow College
Hadlow College

"Hadlow College is a really important part of the local community and I am keen to see the rights of students protected.

"The law has been changed recently and I’m hopeful that the College Oversight guidance will be followed. It would make students the priority and provide a route out of this mess.

"I’ve written to the minister responsible, Anne Milton, to ask that students come first."

The group made headlines in February when it suspended both its chief executive Paul Hannan and deputy chief executive Mark Lumsdon-Taylor of staff amidst an investigation into its finances.

Hadlow Group owns around 300 acres of land and runs Hadlow College and West Kent and Ashford College.

Paul Hannan was suspended as Hadlow Group principal and chief executive
Paul Hannan was suspended as Hadlow Group principal and chief executive
Hadlow Group deputy principal and deputy chief executive Mark Lumsdon-Taylor was also suspended
Hadlow Group deputy principal and deputy chief executive Mark Lumsdon-Taylor was also suspended

A spokesman from the Department of Education said: "We can confirm that following a request from Hadlow College we have applied to the court to place the college in education administration.

"This is matter for the court and it would be inappropriate to comment further until a decision is made."

If a court agrees to place the college in EA, it does not necessarily mean the college will close.

If the application is approved, an administrator will be appointed and they will work with everyone concerned to maintain educational provision at Hadlow in the short term, so that current students can continue with their courses and also to establish a longer term solution to protect further education provision in the county.

In his letter to Anne Milton, Mr Tugendhat has asked the skills and apprenticeships minister to outline options lie ahead for Hadlow Group.

Mr Tugendhat wrote: "Options, as far as I can see, would include a financed recovery authorised by the secretary of state through loaning Hadlow Group the money, declaring the Hadlow Group insolvent or putting it into administration."

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Read more: All the latest news from Tonbridge

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