CEO Nick Juba on the longer term financial challenge facing the Education sector

Nick Juba is the Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Brighton Metropolitan College. Previously, Nick has been a Director of the University of the Arts London – Europe’s largest arts school – and responsible for improving the quality of pre-degree education in the arts. He has also worked at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, an agency of the Department for Education, as a senior advisor and for the European Commission as consultant and rapporteur. 

Here, he talks to Partner Paul Aristides about responding to disruption and the financial challenges facing the Education sector

What has been the biggest challenge for you since the Pandemic?

  1. On a personal level, it’s been about the style and approach to leadership during the crisis and how you respond to that.  There isn’t a handbook or clear protocols and while the initial phase of crisis requires more of a traditional command and control approach, that won’t work as you start to come out the other side…
  2. For the College it has been taking the classroom online.  Still providing a good student experience and providing high quality service.  It’s been a pretty challenging time but we have been incredibly pleased with what we have achieved. My staff have been incredible

The biggest challenge is going to be the financial implications.  The cultural issues, mental health and well-being are all very important, but the lasting impact is going to be financial.  Those Colleges with a diversified income in areas outside of direct government funding are seeing big drops in apprenticeships and commercial and international income.  This year is bad. Next years is going to be much worse.

What does the future hold for the College and sector?

It’s too early to say about sector as the conversations at a sector level aren’t really happening with so much uncertainty in the air.

The College itself has seen a positive outcome with the changes in delivery of teaching and learning and how that manifests itself moving forward.  More flipped learning certainly, however, the classroom will not disappear.  The changes will have an impact on resourcing, culture, identity and how teachers see themselves.

However, the financial impacts will play the greatest role in determining the future shape of the College and our sector

Personally, what have you learnt about yourself as a Leader?

Visibility and access have been challenging and how you do that remotely.  We’ve worked hard on this and I am proud of the level of engagement we have achieved to bring individuals and teams together and as such I’ve learned a lot about myself in this time. 

I’ve also learned that all of us – myself included – will have days when we feel low and/or isolated. Senior leaders sometimes find it difficult to talk about wellbeing and mental health, but I hope that this crisis will bring more acceptance and understanding. 

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