Troubled college's CEO paid £266k, accounts reveal

Birmingham Metropolitan College's CEO Andrew Cleaves was the second best-paid college leader in England in 2015-16, college accounts confirm

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The chief executive of a troubled college that received £16 million in "exceptional financial support" from the government is one of the highest-paid college leaders in England.

According to the college’s financial statement, Birmingham Metropolitan College chief executive Andrew Cleaves received £266,000 in salary in 2015-16 – the same as for the previous year.

In April, Tes revealed the highest-paid college leaders in England for 2015-16. However Birmingham Metropolitan had failed to submit its accounts in time to be included in the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) spreadsheet. But the figure has now been confirmed in the college's own document, since published on its website.

The figure places Mr Cleaves fourth in the list. However, the figures for Cornwall College Group and North East Surrey College of Technology relate to periods of overlap and individuals no longer in post. Of college leaders still in post, only Dame Asha Khemka (£275,000) was paid more than Mr Cleaves in 2015-16.

According to the accounts, the college reduced its workforce by almost 400 between 2014-15 and 2015-16. This included around 150 non-teaching and 240 teaching staff. Last month, members of the University and Colleges Union staged a protest at the college over more proposed job cuts.

'Significant deficit'

The college is still subject to a notice of concern over its financial health, dating back to July 2015. In a report on the institution’s position published at the time, then FE commissioner Sir David Collins said the college’s turnover had “declined significantly and the bottom line has also deteriorated having moved from a surplus in 2009-10 to a significant deficit in 2014-15”. In that same period, learner numbers had dropped by over 30 per cent.  

According to the college’s financial statement for 2015-16, the deficit has since reduced and the recovery plan is on track. However, the independent auditors' note, included in the statement, states the college recorded an operating deficit of almost £4.5 million in the year to 31 July 2016 and net current liabilities of £19.8 million at that date. Their report goes on to say Birmingham Metropolitan College received a £16 million interest-free loan from the then Skills Funding Agency as exceptional financial support, although £1.5million of that has already been repaid. The outstanding amount is expected to be repaid principally from the disposal of surplus properties and the balance from operating cash flows, the auditors say, adding: “However, if the capital receipts do not crystallise, this could result in the college having to seek a deferral of its loan repayments.”

The report also reveals that the college has almost £10 million in loans outstanding with its two banks; because the college had breached its loan covenants, "this amount has been wholly classified as due within one year”, it adds.

Continued recovery

A spokeswoman for the college said: “Over the past year, BMet has continued its recovery, supported by the ESFA and our banks and is making repayments as agreed.  With efficiencies in the way we run the college we are heading towards a balanced budget.”

She added: “Having said that, our focus remains on providing great education for our 26,000 students and we are seeing improvements in, amongst other things, our student satisfaction which has risen around 10 per cent over two years and in our apprenticeship outcomes which have improved significantly to well over the national average. We are proud of the continued efforts and commitment of our people across BMet and we face the future with confidence.”

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