Rob Elliott

Member Article

White Paper Finds £2m Savings for FE Colleges

A survey conducted by Capita’s further and higher education business last month has found that 87% of the principals and vice-principals questioned are concerned about the short to medium-term financial viability of their college.

The survey of 36 principals and vice-principals was undertaken for the launch of Capita’s white paper, ‘The Vice Principal’s Guide to Efficiency: How Technology Can Help Cut Costs for FE Colleges’, which reveals where up to £2 million worth of savings can be made in FE colleges.

The white paper looks at the role of using management information and data to improve efficiency in various areas, and details areas colleges might be able to make savings or increase income, including:

  • £1m saved from improved student management
  • £750,000 saved from using staff and facilities to their maximum efficiency
  • £500,000 gained by maximising income
  • £25,000 saved from streamlining management and administration

There are also potential savings to be made from shared services and introducing new business models.

The survey revealed that colleges already recognise that savings can be made by making better use of staff and facilities, with over half (52%) believing this has the greatest potential for reducing costs in their organisation. This was followed by administrative processes (23%) and new business models (16%) such as mergers and shared services. In fact, 61% of those questioned were already actively investigating the possibility of shared services.

Although student management was identified as a key efficiency area in the white paper, the survey results suggest that colleges don’t always realise the sort of savings it can deliver. Only 10% of respondents believed it offered the potential to significantly save money.

George Layfield, UK sales manager for Capita’s further and higher education business, comments: “Each student drop-out can represent between £5000 and £10,000 of lost funding and recruitment costs yet, despite this, some rates remain as high as 20%.”

John O’Callaghan,assistant director of information services at Hackney Community College and an attendee at the launch event, said: “There can be practical hurdles to overcome for leadership teams to make the most of the data collected on the management of their college, and it can be a challenge to foster a positive culture of data ownership. However, it’s worth persevering as data provides the only way to get a true picture of how efficiently your college is running and if improvements can be made.”

The survey revealed that 68% of delegates reported moderate concerns and a further 19% were extremely concerned about their financial situation. When it comes to quantifying the reductions colleges need to make for 2012/13 it was revealed that:

  • 61% estimate they will need make savings of up to 10% off the overall college budget
  • 19% believe it will be between 10-20%
  • 13% will be looking to make 20-40% savings

“The survey reflects colleges’ on-going concerns over budgets and the need to make savings while protecting the student experience,” continues George. “The white paper sets out how relatively straightforward strategic changes such as increasing class size and having easily accessible, accurate date can have a huge impact on the bottom line without having a negative impact on learning.”

Copies of Capita’s white paper ‘The Vice Principal’s Guide to Efficiency: How Technology Can Help Cut Costs for FE Colleges’ can be downloaded from

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Rob Elliott .

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