Union considers college strike as jobs are threatened

LEADING LIGHT Abi Todd was named Kent League Player of the Year

STAFF at a Tonbridge-based college are considering strike action with cutbacks putting 70 jobs at risk.

West Kent College have admitted that poor student recruitment for the current academic year has led to the situation where expenditure has to be reduced.

The Hadlow Group acquired the institution in August 2014 when it was in financial crisis, and began a three-year development plan. It recently had its Ofsted rating upgraded from ‘inadequate’ to ‘requires improvement’. However, the upticks in performance have not translated into enough growth in student uptake.

The University and College Union (UCU) have criticised the Hadlow Group’s priorities. The group admit that 70 jobs are in doubt.

The college’s Principal and group CEO, Paul Hannan, has a £204,000 salary. Strike action will be balloted within the next nine days.

Ade Phillips, a regional officer for the UCU, branded the cutbacks as ‘completely unacceptable’, adding: “A group which is supposed to be looking after the college is now putting jobs at risk. The principal has had a £60,000 pay increase in the last three years and is the 11th highest paid college head in the UK.”

A college spokesperson responded: “His pay is commensurate with the scale of responsibility and size of the group” – which has a £50m turnover and multiple educational institutions, including Hadlow College.

Questions have also been raised over access to an executive box at Charlton Athletic Football Club for staff and students at a time of financial difficulty.

The college responded that a ‘formal football academy contract’ with the club had existed since 2014, one of the perks of which is access to the hospitality box.

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