THE NEW principal of Stratford College has been quick to reassure the future is bright.
Andrew Cropley has taken over from former principal Nicola Mannock after the cash-strapped college had to be bailed out by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) – after Lloyds Bank refused to provide temporary financial support.
Former Warwickshire College deputy principal Mr Cropley said: “I would like to reassure all of our students that there will be no changes to the courses they are studying on during this academic year and the quality of teaching, and your overall experience, here at Stratford College will not be affected.
“Those on longer programmes can be confident that you will be able to continue their studies with us as planned.
“Our vision remains to be an ‘outstanding, responsive and thriving college’ and to provide our students with excellent educational opportunities and progression routes.
“We are proud of our students and will always place the student experience at the heart of everything we do.”
Speaking to FE Week, chair of Governors Lord Digby Jones said the terms of the bail out included the resignation of Ms Mannock.
Former Confederation of British Industry boss Lord Jones added the Alcester Road college was now looking to form a merger with another organisation to put it on a stronger financial footing for the future.
Lord Jones said: “The only project on the horizon now is to put out a request for tenders for merger.”
He added while he planned to see the college through to recovery, he also intended to “step off the ship” once it reached a “safe port”.
The college is hoping to have a partnership in place in time for the start of the academic year in September.
The college suffered a double blow in 2013 following two damning reports from Further Education Commissioner Dr David Collins and Ofsted.
Dr Collins’ report threw into doubt the college’s ability to remain as an independent institution – pinpointing five years of financial deficit and poor management as factors which may have led to its status being stripped away.
But just a year later the struggling college received high praise from the previously critical Dr Collins following his return inspection to check on its progress.