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“Underperformance” leads Highlands into £30k deficit

“Underperformance” leads Highlands into £30k deficit

Wednesday 22 May 2019

“Underperformance” leads Highlands into £30k deficit


Highlands College ended last year over £30,000 in the red amid what they term the “challenges of doing more with less" as course fees fail to cover the institution's running costs.

Highlands had an overall budget of £12.8million in 2018, set at the beginning of the year.

It comprises a £8.4million grant from the Education Department, £480,300 funding for 84 full time students and £289,000 additional funding for projects, and comes in addition to £3.6million of earned income from course fees and retail income.

But accounts released this week showed that the college went £31,598 over budget last year.

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Pictured: Figures from Highlands College's Financial Report for 2018.

The major areas of expenditures where salaries for permanent lecturers (£5.7million) and support staff (£3.2million), with supplies and services costing £1.7million.

Describing the deficit as "small" in Highlands' Annual Review, Finance Sub-Committee Chair Paul Masterton said that the college was "essentially on target" with its finances.

“While the College faces the challenge of ‘doing more with less’, the Governors have the confidence that the finances are well controlled and closely monitored," he said. "The Board congratulates the leadership team on the result with thanks for their efforts in a challenging financial climate.”

A spokesperson for the government's Children, Young, People, Education and Skills (CYPES) said that the Treasury had a 1% tolerance on deficits, and that Highlands therefore fell "well within" this limit.

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Pictured: The majority of Highlands income comes from tuition fees.

The spokesperson added that last year the college projected earnings of 28% of its total budget from “tuition fees, commercial activity and sponsorship” - something they described as “difficult to predict” in any business.

Speaking to Express, Deputy Jeremy Maçon, the Assistant Minister for Education, explained that currently the College is not making back all of the costs it puts out for courses.

“The college has highlighted that to the Ministerial team and has asked for whether they can increase their fees in order to meet that type of deficit,” Deputy Maçon said.

“It is something which there is movement on - it would require approval from the Minister in order to do that and it’s the kind of conversations we’re having. It’s not the case of we have a deficit and we’re letting it drift. There is movement in order to try and address that.”

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Pictured: Deputy Jeremy Maçon, the Assistant Minister for Education.

In addition to these talks, the Education Minister has started work on a full funding review of education and schools that will also factor in Highlands College.

“There might be additional funding going there as well,” the Deputy said.

He also explained that funding allocated to Highlands has not been reduced in the past few years, but rather that it has stagnated.

“It hasn’t been up keeping with inflation so that’s caused problems for the college, but it is the same with every States department,” Deputy Maçon said.

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Pictured: Funding for Highlands has not reduced but stagnated.

“Everyone needs to look for efficiencies, everyone needs to try and recycle the money… that’s something that always has to be done so the College always has got to look at incoming streams, courses… But there is an issue about do we fundamentally fund the college enough at the moment? And certainly this is something which we are trying to address.”

CYPES recently launched a green paper outlining the government’s ambitions to improve post-16 education for Jersey students both in the island and further afield, which is open for public consultation until 21 June.

Deputy Maçon said the consultation ties in to Highlands College and its future. “If we expect more from the college, that means clearly we need to support and fund it better. How you do that? Raising fees, a bit of partnership with business, more money from the taxpayer, looking at upskilling, reskilling people.

"Yes it might cause more money, but if you support someone for a year with training but then they’re working for the next 10 years in a better job, actually it’s an investment. Actually you’re making money in the long-term, so it’s also having more long-term thinking."

The Assistant Minister continued: “If you can keep people going so that they’re not on income support, so that they don’t lose a job and then they are stuck there, you actually save money because you’re not paying through those schemes.

"For me, education should always really be seen as an investment in the future.”

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