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Inverness deep in the red

The Scottish Further Education Funding Council is investigating a pound;4 million deficit at Inverness College, which received a pound;925,000 increase in its basic recurrent grant this year. Highland MSPs have already met Henry McLeish, the Lifelong Learning Minister, to discuss the crisis.

Staffing and management upheaval, with early departures and redundancies, have pushed costs through the roof. A million of the deficit comes from inescapable pension commitments all colleges have to bear, but pound;3 million is bank borrowing and overdrafts, including pound;500,000 for redundancies.

Graham Clark, the newly appointed principal, says: "Our first task is to balance the books on our income and expenditure this year and then move into surplus without recourse to redundancies. But that is going to be difficult given the scale of the problem."

One option is to reschedule the college's debts to the bank, given that its assets are valued at pound;20 million.

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