College Incorporation Fooled Many People into Thinking They Controlled Colleges. Some Thought That Because The Corporation Had Legal Ownership They “Owned” the College.
But Incorporation or “Legal Ownership” Isn’t The Same as Control.
It’s a bit like people that think they own their businesses when the reality is that the bank owns most of it and the “owner” runs it for them!
That may sound a bit far-fetched but think about it. The bank will often have the first call on the property and can call in a mortgage or loan at any time.
In other cases, a third party has a major say in a business. Think about those people that focus their business around social media. It might be that they are LinkedIn gurus, or they may put all their advertising eggs in Facebook’s basket. In this case they are dependent on Facebook.
Ditto those that rely on Amazon, E-bay, Apple, Kindle etc. None of these businesses is yours, but you give them a stake in your business. Who is in control?
Most FE Providers Have Little Control Over FE: Who Controls Your College or Provider?
If, as a provider, you predominately offer courses funded by the ESFA or HEFC, or if you fall under the scope of Ofsted in any other way, you are not fully in control of your business.
Sure the Corporation may be a legal entity and it will own a lot on paper. But if you fail an Ofsted, Get a Notice of Financial Concern, or trip over a few other areas that concern government or their proxies, you could find you control nothing at all. You can find a strong suggestion that you merge with your competitor! Of course they can’t insist on a merger in the true sense of the word. But they can withdraw funding and your grades will become public knowledge.
In reality we have little control of a college. We don’t control funding levels. We don’t control the quality standards we must adhere to. And legal ownership makes absolutely no difference.
Changing Who Controls Your College
If you are dependent on funding levels over which you have no say, or if you live in fear of a snap Ofsted, there is another way.
You have to divest yourself of over-dependence on government funding. That’s a huge ask, but the only way you can truly control the business the corporation owns.
But there is a ray of hope. It will probably mean no change to your mission statement. I’ve Googled College Mission Statement and radical changes like this would have no impact on the 7-8 I looked at.
I’m not saying there will be no legal difficulties. You’ll need to look at your charitable status for example. But there’s little of this nature that cannot be resolved provided you retain your education focus.
And of course the Board and staff might well be shocked by the thought of going commercial. Yes, you need income and will need to think commercially. But that need not detract from an education focus.
What you will see is a reduction in pressure to comply with ever-changing funding requirements and the fear of Ofsted. You will also know Who Controls Your College.
Suddenly you’ll have equity in the business and be able to focus on the real needs of your students and staff. No one will be able to steal the business via a merger.
Changing Who Controls Your College is Going to be Tough
It’ll be the toughest thing you’ve ever done. And most of you will consider the very notion of dropping funded courses impossible. You are the people that are reading this and thinking I’m mad.
If you do think the notion mad or impossible then don’t even think about going down this street.
But if you can see the promise and are prepared to work for change then start planning. You will not change things overnight. It may take many years. But one thing is sure. Doing the same thing as you’ve been doing since incorporation is only going to get harder.
There is more FE Thought Leadership at http://providermastermind.com/