Black art of the college budget

10th September 2004 at 01:00
"You can tell this is a budget," George W Bush once said of a document on his desk, "it's got numbers on it." And this guy knows about budgets. Why, he's even got an MBA.

But could he run the budget of an FE college? Probably not. Because a college accountant is a number-cruncher, magician and clairvoyant all rolled into one, and these are skills you either have or don't.

Who but a genius, for example, could promise to take on all 16-19 students who apply, as the Government would like colleges to do, without knowing the numbers in advance?

In your average FE college the accountant has surely to be the most important member of its administrative staff. So the Learning and Skills Council's request for nominations for a College Finance Director of the Year award will come as a welcome opportunity to recognise some of these people for their special powers.

But what should the trophy be? I suggest a crystal ball. A real one the winner can keep on the desk, next to the calculator.

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