Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Charity's 'Death by a Thousand Cuts' Is Laid Bare: Fe News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Charity's 'Death by a Thousand Cuts' Is Laid Bare: Fe News

Article excerpt

LSN faces debts of Pounds 30m, but its assets may raise just Pounds 4.4m.

At a conference hall in Blackfriars, London, the administrators of the Learning and Skills Network last week laid bare to creditors the extent of the financial failure. According to documents obtained by TES, the charity for FE quality improvement faces debts and liabilities of about Pounds 30 million - while its assets are expected to raise just Pounds 4.4 million.

It was a precipitous fall for an organisation that in 2009 reported having Pounds 31 million in cash. Creditors include colleges and training providers, some of which are owed tens of thousands of pounds. The National Science Learning Centre at the University of York, which provides professional development to science teachers in schools and FE, is owed more than Pounds 100,000.

After the preferred creditors are paid, the administrators said that they had hoped the rest could receive 50p in the pound, but in the light of the local government pension scheme's claim rising to Pounds 20 million, they feared that creditors may see as little as 10p in the pound. "It has not been possible to rescue the business as a going concern," the administrators, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), said.

LSN's head office was shut after a two-week search made it apparent that there were no likely buyers. PwC also told the meeting that it had "bent over backwards" to find a buyer for the Learning and Skills Development Agency Northern Ireland, which supported quality improvement from Belfast head-quarters, but to no avail - that too has closed.

There were buyers, however, for parts of the business, saving more than a third of the 117 jobs. Learning Resources International sold for Pounds 235,000, avoiding 15 redundancies. The National Extension College sale for over Pounds 173,000 avoided 26 job losses and further claims by students for refunds on course fees of at least Pounds 3 million. …

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