Otley college campus safe despite job cuts and £1.5m budget shortfall

David Henley, principal and chief executive at Easton and Otley College.

David Henley, principal and chief executive at Easton and Otley College. - Credit: Archant

Easton and Otley College says it has no plans to close its Suffolk site, despite an ongoing battle against budgetary shortfalls.

The EADT can reveal that the workforce across the college’s two locations, at Otley, near Ipswich, and Easton, Norwich, was reduced by the equivalent of 56 full-time jobs between May 2014 and February this year, largely through a policy of non-replacement .

This was in response to reduced levels of Government funding for Further Education, which has seen Easton and Otley College suffer cuts of £2.4million since 2012, with a further reduction of £500,000 this year.

The college is currently approaching the end of a period of consultaion on further changes, designed to improve efficiency and help plug a budget shortfall for 2015-16 in the region of £1.5million.

However, it says these changes will result in a net increase of 1.5 posts in full-time equivalent (FTE) terms and that it plans to continue to invest in facilities at Otley.

“We would like to make reassurances that we have no plans to close the Otley campus and we are excited about its development in the future,” said a college spokesman.

College principal and chief executive David Henley, who took up his post on April 20 this year, said: “Staffing structure changes to both support and teaching staff have been looked at within specific areas and a plan for change is nearing completion with minimal job losses being incurred.

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“This specific process, that started in March this year, will actually see the total staff compliment expressed as FTEs actually go up by 1.5 posts instead of down, representing a positive result of the change.”

Mr Henley said that 14 staff had so far opted to accept offers of voluntary redundancy and the number of compulsory redundancies was expected to be “minimal”.

He added: “Funding reductions for all UK colleges have been severe, and whilst we fully understand the Government’s desire to reduce the deficit, we believe that the Government need to invest in organisations who are successfully helping students progress to higher levels of study or employment.

“We would also like to reassure our students, and those connected with our students, that we will do all we can to ensure that we continue to deliver an excellent student experience. We would also like to pay tribute to staff who will be leaving us and thank them for their support and hard work.”

The college, a specialist in provision for land-based industries, was created in its current form through the merger of the previously separate Easton and Otley colleges in 2012.

“Since merging in 2012 we have invested at both campuses,” the college spokesman added. “At Otley specifically, areas that have received investment include agriculture (in terms of facilities and livestock), animal studies (in terms of a new study centre) and horticulture (in terms of new facilities and a garden area). We aim to make further investment, at both campuses, in the future.”