Failure not an option for Skills Funding Agency

30th July 2010 at 01:00

I was disappointed to note that the article "As the cuts bear down colleges seek to pair up and reinvent themselves" (July 16) did not include the comment that you sought from me regarding whether the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) would allow a college to fail.

Your article gives the impression that the SFA is complacently "prepared for at least one college, maybe more, to go bust". "Bust" is not the right word. I will not allow any college to fail its learners, its customers, its community or its creditors. Rather, the Agency will work proactively with colleges to explore cost-effective solutions to financial difficulties to secure provision for learners.

If such efforts are insufficient to secure the independent future of a college, we will work to effect a successful transition of learners and customers to other providers, using the assets and facilities of the college and ensuring financial liabilities are met.

However, these are last resorts. The most effective way to ensure high- quality provision across the country is to encourage institutions that are in place to overcome obstacles to cost-effective and efficient delivery.

David Croll is quite right to say that colleges should consider talking to potential collaboration partners now, and not wait until learners are put at risk. I am keen that the Agency plays a part in these conversations, supporting colleges to explore the variety of ways they can work together to avoid circumstances in which any college is at risk of failing.

Geoff Russell, Chief executive, Skills Funding Agency.

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