A principal of an Oxford college, who is under investigation after he lost his job when an audit revealed £5 million worth of overclaimed funding, received a £75,000 pay-out last year.   

The £75K pay out for Paul Di Felice’s loss of office was revealed in Ruskin College’s recently published 2021 accounts.

The principal spent nine years at the college before he was suspended pending an investigation in May 2021.

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The Education and Skills Funding agency is taking back £5.35 million from the college following the overclaims for the adult education budget and residential bursary funding.

Ruskin College was founded in 1899, but after it faced financial challenges, it joined the University of West London in August 2021. The University of West London was approached and a deal to ensure a ‘secure future’ was made.

thisisoxfordshire: Paul Di FelicePaul Di Felice

The college has been subject to a financial notice to improve since 2014.

Di Felice made a statement after he officially left the college in June last year. Ruskin College said it was “made in accordance with contractual obligations that were in place prior to the University of West London’s involvement”.   

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Ruskin College generated £1.4 million of income in 2021. It recorded an operating deficit of £944,000, after allowing for “restructuring costs” of £159,000 and profit on disposal of one of its bases of operations, the listed Stoke House, of £1.7 million.   

In the college’s latest accounts, it states that it has “not been able to recover from some significant solvency and financial problems during 2018/19 and 2019/20”.

It adds the main problem is a “lack of available liquidity, the impact of Covid on student recruitment and retention, staff turnover, ongoing ESFA clawbacks and an increase in pension liability”.   

However, it highlights that due to the merger with UWL, the college “will have adequate funding to continue in operational existence as a going concern”.   

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A UWL spokesperson said the university is “focused on reinvigorating Ruskin College so that we can provide opportunities for adults to learn and grow, regardless of background and circumstance”.  

The historic oxford-based college has links to oxford University, and it is known for educating working-class people.

The colleges focuses on adult learners and its offer includes Access to HE diplomas, English for speakers of other languages courses, and trade union courses accredited by the TUC.   

Read more from this author

This story was written by Rebecca Whittaker, she joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Rebecca covers education and news in Abingdon and Wantage.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Rebecca.Whittaker@newquest.co.uk or calling 07824524333

Follow her on Twitter @RebecWhitt

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