College vows to make a fresh start after ‘crisis’

Sue Georgious, Interim Principal at Warwickshire College
Sue Georgious, Interim Principal at Warwickshire College
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Warwickshire College will appoint a new principal on reasonable pay and work round more public spending cuts following a ‘financial 
crisis’.

The college’s former principal, Mariane Cavalli, took a sudden leave of absence in June - just weeks after the group announced it was facing redundancies and millions of pounds of debt.

Following her resignation, the centre was subject to probing questions by unions when it emerged Ms Cavalli’s salary had risen from £180,000 to £230,000 since 2012.

The former principal and CEO also came under public scrutiny for her involvement with overseas bodies and a Gazelle Group - formed with four other principals to promote student entrepreneurship.

But her temporary replacement, Sue Georgious, has this week assured that despite the “difficult spell”, the college’s finances have been given a satisfactory rating from regulators, the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) - and that they are committed to moving forward.

She has also made “serious recommendations” that the new principal of the group’s six colleges - due to be appointed by December - be paid more appropriately for the sector.

She said: “There were a lot of probing questions as to where Warwickshire College (WC) was spending its money.

“The SFA is not concerned with our finances. They have looked at us over the summer and are quite content with the position we are in.

“We have invested a lot of money into buildings and finances are still being managed extremely carefully.

“What’s happened has happened - we got over that and are moving on. But we want to be as clear as we can be that a squeeze on public spending will continue across the UK.”

She also assured that any secrecy over Ms Cavalli’s departure was down to confidentiality agreements over severance and that there had been “no financial irregularities” behind the resignation.

“The principal’s strategic view was quite different to that of the board,” she said.

“There was no impropriety involved in that decision and it is important that people see that is the case.”

She said that public spending cuts of up to 15 percent are “likely” next year and that they continue to work to budget.

The college is considering its future investment in the Gazelle Group - which took £500,000 in investment from WC over four years.

Warwickshire College said it had lost £10.5m in government funding and that redundancies among some of its 1,700 members of staff are “unavoidable” as it seeks to shave £3million from its budget.