Warwickshire College’s stand-in principal has spoken for the first time about the shock departure of Mariane Cavalli - and how the institution plans to get back on track.
Ms Cavalli, the college’s former principal, took a sudden leave of absence in June - just weeks after the organisation announced it was facing redundancies and millions of pounds of debt. As well as its Rugby campus in Technology Drive, the college has sites in towns including Leamington and Warwick.
Following Ms Cavalli’s resignation, the college was subject to probing questions by unions when it emerged her salary had risen from £180,000 to £230,000 since 2012.
The former principal and chief executive also came under public scrutiny for her involvement with overseas bodies and the ‘Gazelle Group’ - formed with four other principals to promote student entrepreneurship.
But her temporary replacement, Sue Georgious, last 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 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 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 from the college over four years.
Warwickshire College said it had lost £10.5 million in Government funding and that redundancies among some of its 1,700 members of staff are “unavoidable” as it seeks to shave £3 million from its budget.