College to cut a third of jobs

2nd April 2004 at 01:00
Salisbury college which is facing debts of pound;2 million and has just lost its principal,is cutting 96 posts. Brian Best reports.

A crisis-hit college that has run up debts of more than pound;2 million is to shed nearly a third of its staff.

Salisbury college has said that it intends to cut 106 of its 334 posts. The job cuts are the latest woe to befall the college which ealier this month announced a mutual parting of ways with principal Howard O'Keeffe after months of controversy about his position.

He was sacked and then reinstated on home leave after only just starting to mastermind a recovery plan for the college which has debts of more than pound;2 million.

The recovery plan was put on hold for some months because of the uncertainty of his position.

He was still on home leave with no recovery plan in place when the 14,000-student college faced an Office for Standards in Education inspection earlier this month.

Now, in the latest upheaval, governors' chairman Peter Riggs and clerk Tony Rogers have both indicated they will stand down in the next few months.

They say the departure of Mr O'Keeffe has nothing to do with their decisions and they are both coming to the natural end of their terms.

Mr Rogers said: "This is nothing to do with the problems we have had. I am 66 in August and I have been suffering heart disease for the past 18 months. Peter is 70 this year and coming to the end of his three- year term."

Salisbury does, however, have one good piece of news to announce - the long-awaited recovery plan has been given verbal approval by governors and learning and skills council chiefs.

A major part of the recovery is saving pound;1.6m through job cuts.

The college is seeking 57 redundancies on top of 12 vacancies it has left frozen. A further 37 are expected to be lost through redeployment.

Vice principal Colin Briddick said they hoped to secure the savings without resorting to compulsory redundancies.

Mr Briddick said: "About 40 per cent of colleges have gone through funding problems. Salisbury is quite a difficult, competitive area in terms of education.

"We have been a highly supportive college to the local community, putting on many courses. But it means courses with low numbers which are quite expensive."

He said the college had managed to increase pay by 3 per cent this year despite the funding problems.

The college was seeking cuts of nearly one-third across the staff, from managers, lecturers and business support.

Mr Briddick stressed there was also good news in the recovery plan with aims to develop the curriculum, putting on more courses in the craft and construction areas.

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