Hull College

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Not to be confused with Hull Municipal Training College (later Hull College of Education)
Hull College
HuC logo CMYK.png
Hull College Logo
Type Further education college
Acting Chief Executive Michelle Swithenbank
Location Queen's Gardens
East Riding of Yorkshire
Coordinates: 53°44′47″N 0°19′57″W / 53.746280°N 0.332400°W / 53.746280; -0.332400
DfE URN 130579 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Students 28,000
Gender Mixed
Ages Mainly Post 16–No Upper Limit
Hull College, Queens Gardens, Kingston-upon-Hull

Hull College is a further education College in Hull, England. Its enrolment of around 28,000 (2005/06) makes it one of the largest colleges of its type in the United Kingdom.[1] In addition to its three centres in Queen's Gardens, Cannon Street, and the KCOM Stadium, it also operates a centre in Goole, and another one in Harrogate as well as a further 30 locations around Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire.[1] All of the colleges form part of the Hull College Group. The Group proclaim to be one of the largest providers of its type in the country, with a turnover of over £60 million, over 1,200 staff members and over 25,000 students across its campuses.[2]


The main bulk of courses operated by Hull College in Hull, are run in the college's Tower Block building. With eight floors, the building was built in the 1950s and is an example of brutalist architecture. In 1967, the College took over the former Carthusian monastery, Hull Charterhouse, converting part of the building into an annex of the college.[3] By 2015, the site had been relinquished.[4] The Chesters Building, an extension of the Tower Block, houses the Learning Resource Centre and Student Support Services.[5] There is also a smaller block situated next to the Tower Block, called The Wilberforce Building. In 2012, this building was converted to the Hull Studio School. After this closed in 2014, the building was reverted into classrooms for FE courses.

The Queen's Gardens site is also home to the Hull School of Art and Design (HSAD) which was founded in 1861 and currently hosts higher education courses in the subject. The school is housed in 1970s buildings, adjacent to the college's main Tower Block.[6] Further Education courses in Art and Design are also offered at the college's Park Street site, however it was confirmed that the site would be closed and sold off at the end of the 2015–16 academic year.[7] A monument dedicated to English politician William Wilberforce, a 102-foot (31 m) Greek Doric column topped by a statue of Wilberforce, also stands in the grounds of Hull College at Queen's Gardens.[8]

In 2003,[9] the College opened a new building named The Horncastle Building, as part of the Queen's Gardens site. Housing its drama, media and musical courses, it hosts a 200-seat theatre allowing performing arts students to perform to the general public. Students also have access to drama studios, a radio suite and an operational television studio.[10] Architects DLA Interiors were responsible for the design of all public areas, including the refectory and the classrooms.[11]

In February 2008, Hailey Giblin, a 21-year-old victim of the notorious murderer Ian Huntley, staged a rooftop protest on the top of the college's Tower Block as part of a campaign for Huntley to be charged for a child sex attack, which he had admitted committing against her. Due to her protest, college officials were forced to evacuate the top three floors of the eight-storey building.[12]

Following a 2008 inspection, an Ofsted report awarded the college a Grade 1 (outstanding). The college is a member of the Collab Group of high-performing further-education institutions.[13]

In June 2009, plans for an expansive £80 million rebuild of the College buildings were halted by central government. Hull College's Queen's Gardens campus was one of a number of colleges expected to be given the go-ahead for building projects under the Building Schools for the Future programme. Plans included the demolition of the Tower Block and the provision of modern facilities that would house workshops, laboratories, kitchens, salons and a sports centre.[14] The whole programme would eventually be terminated by the Government in July 2010.

In November 2014, the Hull College Group announced that they would be taking over the University of Hull Scarborough campus. The University of Hull had since 2000 offered higher education on its satellite campus in Scarborough.[15] In January 2016, it was revealed that the college had 'pulled out' of buying the campus for unknown reasons.[16]



In October 2011, as a result of central government budget cuts, the college made eighty staff members redundant following a £3.2 million shortfall in funding. Thirty of the redundancies were academic staff.[17] In June 2014, the college again asked for voluntary redundancies among staff following an expected loss of a further £1.5 million in its income, the following year. Consequently, staff morale at the college was said to be 'on its knees' due to uncertainty over their futures.[18] In January 2016, it was revealed that 385 members of staff had been made redundant from the college since 2011, with 300 from the Hull site alone.[19] On 2 September 2016, it was revealed that at least a further 100 full-time posts would be cut from the college, in an attempt to address a £2.6 million deficit.[20] University and College Union (UCU) Regional Official Julie Kelly[21] had suggested that further redundancies would also be made with regards to the college's support staff. This would potentially include the college's librarians, IT support and disability support staff. Kelly had also suggested that the college had been 'mismanaged' and that management had made a 'series of a disastrous decisions'.[22] It was proposed that up to sixty lecturers would lose their jobs.[23]

Industrial action[edit]

In April 2016, it was announced that staff at Hull College would take industrial action following a dispute surrounding pay and working conditions, relating to a controversial lesson observation system. Despite the college offering staff a 0.7% pay rise in September 2015, as well as promising changes to a heavily criticised lesson observation process, said promises had failed to materialise. As a result, staff were apparently 'more stressed than ever'. Over four-fifths of the UCU member staff members at the college that took part in the ballot, voted in favour of strike action and 95.3% in favour of action short of strike. Industrial action took place on 3 May 2016, with picket lines outside the college's Hull and Goole sites.[24][25][26]

Hull East MP Karl Turner was also in attendance of the Hull protest, attending at the request of some of his constituents that are employees of the college. The day after the protest, Turner received a strongly-worded letter from Gary Warke, the Chief Executive of the college, condemning his attendance. Warke expressed his 'sincere disappointment' that Turner had not informed him or any other member of the college Group Management Team, that he had planned on doing so. Warke also suggested that Turner had only heard 'one side of the dispute' and that his actions were 'highly inappropriate and disrespectful' to the Hull College Group. In response, Turner expressed shock at the 'threatening and derogatory tone' of the letter, suggesting that these comments were likely the 'same bullying tactics' used against the staff that had been 'forced' to protest.[27] He also described Warke's letter as 'veiled threats'.[28]

Perhaps coincidentally, on 11 May 2016 a user with an IP address originating from Hull College had attempted to remove this section from the Wikipedia page. The edit was reverted just under a minute later.

On 16 June 2016, it was reported that staff would no longer have to endure 'stressful' observations and had secured a pay rise after the UCU had won its dispute with management.[29]

On 7 September 2016, it was revealed that lecturers had entered a formal dispute with the college over the planned number of redundancies, opening up the possibility for a further strike.[30] The UCU was to hold a vote on strike action, with the ballot to close on 30 September 2016.[23] The same day, it was announced that staff had voted for strike action over job cuts.[31] The strike was to initially take place on 13 October 2016, although this was delayed by a week whilst talks continued. On 19 October 2016, it was announced that the strike had been called off, after an agreement had been reached between the college and unions.[32]


Hull Studio School[edit]

In September 2012, a studio school named 'Hull Studio School' was opened by the Hull College Group and based at the Queen's Garden's campus. In March 2014, less than two years after opening, the school was closed due to a 'lack of interest'.[33][34] During its short lifetime, Hull Studio School had received over £1 million in Government funding from the Department for Education. The 26 Year 10 pupils attending the school at the time were forced to move to other institutions by the end of the 2013–14 academic year.[35]


In August 2014, the college announced that they would be creating a new A-Level centre to double the number of students studying the qualification at their Hull campus. In October that year, the college reversed the decision and announced that they would instead stop offering A-Level subjects for students, with the final year being the end of the 2014–15 academic year. The college stated that they would instead focus on vocational qualifications. The decision was said to have caused anger among students.[36]

Closure of Park Street[edit]

In December 2015, it was announced that Art and Design courses which had been based at the college's Park Street centre in Hull for a number of years, would be relocated after the building had been sold off. While courses still ongoing would remain in the building until June 2016, courses would move to the Queen's Gardens site for September 2016.[7] The Victorian building was Grade II listed in November 1973, and had been converted for educational use in around 1950.[37] Staff members however claimed that the proposed future site for the Art and Design department, the 'Tower Block', was 'completely full' and could not accommodate any more courses. Students were similarly disillusioned at the shortsightedness of the sale, considering that Kingston upon Hull had been awarded the title of UK City of Culture, with celebrations to commence in just over a year.[4]


On 7 September 2016 Hull College announced that it would be halting all of its childcare provision, which consisted of three nurseries with two of these based in Hull itself.[38] Parents were reportedly 'in tears' following the announcement.[39] On 22 October 2016 a protest against the closures took place, which consisted of a march through the city centre of Hull.[40] On 10 November 2016, Hull MP Alan Johnson wrote a 'scathing letter' to Hull College bosses regarding the closures. Mr Johnson and fellow MPs Diana Johnson and Karl Turner said that they were "surprised and disappointed" alternative options to closing nurseries had not been given "more attention". In the letter, Mr Johnson said he was "enormously impressed" by three members of staff based at the Queens Gardens nursery who came to him with a proposal to reduce the nursery's individual overspend from £250,000 to £40,000. But said he was "amazed" to hear neither the senior leadership team (SLT) or board of governors had spoken to the women before issuing them with redundancy notices.

In the letter to Hull College Group CEO Gary Warke and chairman of governors Patricia Tomlinson, Mr Johnson wrote: "When we met you rightly spoke about the proud record of Hull College in avoiding statutory redundancy; yet this point has been reached without any attempt by you or your colleagues to listen directly to staff who have served you conscientiously over so many years and have tried hard to help you to find a solution. I feel very strongly about this issue as do my colleagues Diana Johnson and Karl Turner. There is a feasible option available in the business plan and a statutory duty on the employer to consider it seriously before announcing redundancies. More importantly there is a moral duty on Hull College not to abandon these women who have worked so hard for you over many years."

Mr Johnson said the college had taken the decision to close the nursery and make staff redundant on the assumption the nursery would fail to recruit more nurseries. Mr Johnson said: "Had you met with the senior staff (at the nursery) you would have learnt that the deficit of £40,000 a year upon which the SLT based its decision would only apply if the nursery fails to recruit more users. The staff told me how fortunate they'd been not to lose any existing users given the fact that they've been faced with well publicised plans for closure. They are not yet at capacity and further customers can eliminate what's left of the deficit. Mr Johnson closed the letter urging the Group "not to lose public sympathy" over the issue and asked to hold a meeting to discuss the business plan with the women "as soon as possible".[41]

On 21 December 2016, it was confirmed that the college's nursery would remain open, following the submission of a business plan.[42]

Disability equality scheme[edit]

In April 2007, Hull College were 'named and shamed' by the Disability Rights Commission for failing to provide evidence of a disability equality scheme before a 27 March deadline.[43]

Financial issues[edit]

In February 2017, an FE Commissioner intervention report exposed grave financial problems facing Hull College Group. Commissioner Richard Atkins’ team was sent in to carry out their assessment, after the Skills Funding Agency issued it with a notice of concern in November 2016. The report on Hull explained that the notice was issued because the college had been rated inadequate by the SFA for financial health (based on its 2016 to 2018 financial plan) and as a result of the college’s request for exceptional financial support. It warned that the senior leadership team had not succeeded in addressing key issues facing the college, including steady decline in financial performance and loss of market share. There was said to be concern at all levels of the organisation that it “lacks strategic vision and strong, resolute leadership and that this is frustrating and demotivating for staff”.

The section on the college’s financial position warned that “its operating performance, as measured by ‘surplus/deficit after interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation costs’ has amounted to a cumulative deficit of around £10 million over the past four years, and a further deficit in excess of £1 million is forecast for the current year. “The college has not achieved its budgeted income for any of the last three years.” It concluded that a “substantial amount of work needs to be done” to secure a sustained financial recovery. Commenting on the relationship with the board, it said: “Governors do not appear to have been advised on a timely basis, that falling student numbers have not simply caused by adverse demographic trends, but are also the result of loss of market share.” Concern was also expressed about slow reaction to the many problems faced by the college. “There is criticism from the corporation and staff that ‘bad news’ is not reported to the corporation with sufficient speed or candour, thus slowing down the ability to take the rigorous actions required to ensure sustainable financial recovery,” the report said. It also raised concern about staff costs. “Despite a number of years of staff cuts, on the SFA’s definition, the college’s staff costs are high, at around 78 per cent of income for 2015/16 and a forecast 72 per cent for 2016/17 (as a comparator, the area review benchmark is 60 to 65 per cent),” the report said. “This level of cost is unaffordable.”[44]

Following the revelations, Julie Kelly, regional organiser of the University and College Union, said that the Chief Executive Gary Warke, who was awarded an MBE for services to education in 2013, should take responsibility for the failings and resign. "This new report by the Further Education Commissioner is quite damning about the leadership and governance of the college," she said. "As a union we have been raising similar concerns for a number of years. "There is no other college in the Yorkshire and Humber region in this position and there are only two others in the rest of the country where similar interventions by the commissioner have taken place."[45]

On 1 March 2017, Gary Warke MBE, Chief Executive Officer announced his resignation following the damning revelations.[46]


The Acting Chief Executive of the Hull College Group is Michelle Swithenbank, following the resignation of Gary Warke in March 2017.[46] The Chief Operating Officer is Antony Sutton, former Chief Executive of Hull FC. The current Principal of Hull College is Graham Towse. Towse had joined the College in 1996 and in April 2013 took up the post as Principal.[47] On 10 October 2016, it was announced that Towse would be leaving the college in February 2017 due to 'personal reasons'. Leaving alongside him would be Tony Sutton, Chief Operating Officer.[48] The Principal of Harrogate College is Debra Forsythe-Conroy. The current Principal of Goole College is Caron Wright.[49]

The Chair of the Hull College Group Corporation is Pat Tomlinson. The Vice Chairs are Andrew Manderfield, Paul Hollins and Chris Fenwick. Governors include Melissa Askew, Stuart Clark, Alliah Hamid, Hilary Jack, Karen Keaney, Shane McMurray, Lee Pearson (Students' Union President), Chris Roberts, James Tabor and Lottie Thompson (Chair to the Corporation).[50]

Vocational training[edit]

The Hull College 'Horncastle' building. Situated near North Bridge, Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire.

Apart from higher education, Hull College also provides several short vocational training programmes.

Maritime / Logistics[51]

Notable alumni[edit]


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  49. ^ "Goole College and HCUK Training set to launch Goole Business & Logistics Centre – Goole College". Retrieved 3 December 2015. .
  50. ^ "Governor Profiles – Hull College". Retrieved 3 December 2015. 
  51. ^ "Maritime & Logistics Training at Hull College". Hull College. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 

External links[edit]