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West Kent and Ashford College placed into education administration

Two colleges have been placed into education administration.

Bosses of West Kent and Ashford College (WKAC) made a request to be placed into financial management, which was approved by the High Court today.

The further education establishment's accounts will now be controlled by BDO LLP, an accountancy and business advisory firm.

West Kent College
West Kent College

The organisation will settle the institution's debts whilst trying to minimise disruption for the existing students, in particular those with special educational needs.

The request came after the Further Education Commissioner - who recommends what actions college governing bodies could make to improve performance - recently recommended East Kent College Group should take on its provision and facilities in Ashford, and for North Kent College to be responsible for those in Tonbridge.

WKAC revealed it had asked the government to lodge a claim on its behalf yesterday.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “The Education and Skills Funding Agency will continue to work closely with the administrators and with West Kent and Ashford College to minimise disruption to staff and students, and to deliver a longer term solution to protect the provision of Further Education in Kent.”

Ashford College
Ashford College

Interim principal Graham Morley said: "Education administration is designed to protect provision and we want to reassure applicants, students and their families that the college will continue as normal.

“The process won’t affect the support we offer to students or the quality of education at the college.

“Applications and enrolments are being taken for courses – from GCSEs to A-levels, vocational routes, apprenticeships and undergraduate programmes - starting in September 2019.

“We recognise that students, applicants and their families, alongside employers and other partners, may well be concerned about the impact but we want to take this opportunity to assure them that this will not affect the day-to-day operations of the college.

“Staff continue to be employed as before, with no changes envisaged to staffing as a result of the process. Student qualifications will be unaffected by the education administration.”

Before the court's decision was announced, WKAC chairman Martin Doel added: “While finances have been stabilised over recent months, the college is faced with exceptional outstanding liabilities and would be insolvent without external support.

“Entering education administration would provide the college with an effective means of implementing the recommendations in the Further Education Commissioner’s Options Review, which are aimed at obtaining a long-term sustainable solution for the existing provision offered by the college.”

Earlier this year, its sister college Hadlow College was the first establishment to go through the new insolvency regime.

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