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Auditor Looks Into College


Management at the former Coatbridge College have been strongly criticised for paying themselves overly generous severance deals before a merger.

Auditor General for Scotland, Caroline Gardner, said the senior staff received payments "that exceeded the terms of the college's severance scheme".

Coatbridge College become part of New College Lanarkshire last year. A total of 39 staff left at a cost of £1.7m.

The auditor general's report showed £849,842 of this went on seven staff.

New College Lanarkshire was formed by a merger of Motherwell, Cumbernauld and Coatbridge Colleges.

Ms Gardner's audit of the merger process found "serious weaknesses in governance relating to severance arrangements" at Coatbridge College.

The auditor general's report states: "The proposed severance scheme for senior staff offered terms that were significantly higher than the Scottish Funding Council's guidance and the schemes of the other colleges that merged to form New College Lanarkshire."

The report found that a total of £849,842 had been paid in severance deals to the college principal, five members of the senior management team and a member of staff within the principal's office.

It concluded: "The college did not retain sufficient evidence (minutes and business cases) that severance proposals, and salary enhancements, had been subject to a value for money assessment."

The report said there was an "absence of any evidence that the remuneration committee had access to the information and advice it needed to fulfil its responsibilities".

It also observed that "the principal failed to take the steps needed to demonstrate that the inherent conflicts of interest were properly handled".

Overall, the report concluded: "The poor decision-making and record-keeping has resulted in potentially unnecessary costs being incurred by the college and is likely to affect public perception of the quality of college governance."