General questions and answers

15 April 2016
Why is the college in debt in the first place?
Previous college management and Governors agreed the redevelopment of the Haywards Heath campus between 2008 and 2011. Part way through that redevelopment central government removed the funding for building colleges. The board and senior management at that time decided to continue with the project, leaving the college with a mortgage of £22m. Since then the college has been battling to control the debt whilst maintaining education on all our campuses.

How much of the debt is attached to Haywards Heath?
£21.4m of a total college debt of £25m is a mortgage on the new build at Haywards Heath. Unlike almost every other college, we have to find £2.1m of income per year to service our debts before we can make any investment in our students.

How many students are there at Haywards Heath, Crawley and East Grinstead?

Central Sussex College has a total of 11,000 students, around 1000 attend the Haywards Heath campus and around 200/300 attend the East Grinstead campus. The Haywards Heath campus had 860 16 to 19 year olds studying there this year. Projections of applications for next year suggest that number would drop to around 600.

Why is the college opening new facilities at Crawley campus?
The projects at Crawley campus are funded externally. Last year the Local Enterprise Partnership invited invitations to tender for capital funding which would meet specific skills needs. This money was not available for any other purpose so could not have been spent servicing the college’s debt or for any other purpose. The Advanced Technology Centre is an extension to an existing building, which has had a makeover and provides much needed, up-to-date facilities and equipment for technical and professional qualifications.

The IT Academy was also an externally funded project using money specifically allocated to the college for that purpose and not available to use for any other purpose. It sits within an existing building and was established in order to enhance the digital and computing skills of young people and those already working in the IT industry, as well as offering a range of specialist computer software and hardware courses that are much needed locally and nationally.

These important additions to the Crawley campus are part of the college’s vision to continue in our role as a specialist in vocational education, improving the skills and job opportunities of the local workforce and helping young people train for sustainable, enjoyable, economically beneficial careers.

How is the college protecting the achievement of continuing Haywards Heath students?
Our immediate priorities are to minimise the disruption to students and we have put a number of measures in place to honour our obligation to students and protect the quality of every course. These include financial incentives to retain teaching staff, retention of all expert learning and teaching managers and contingency plans with teaching agencies.

What is the college doing to ensure that all applicants find a place for next year?
We have been liaising closely with a number of providers in the area and we are confident that there is capacity in the area to take all of our applicants. We are working with individuals currently and are inviting applicants to an event next week when 4 post 16 providers with capacity to take more students will be available to speak to applicants about next year. The college is also working with alternative providers to support any additional travel requirements students may have as a result of this change.