Why is the College considering relocating to Falmouth ?
There has been a great deal of misinformation, secrecy and difficulty finding out what the real issues, finances and figures are. The staff at the College have not been consulted or informed about the proposed changes until very recently. News of the college's closure only emerged after it was leaked to the press in November, 2006. Discussions seem to have involved primarily the head of the College - Andrew Brewerton and the chief executive of the trust -Vaughan Lindsay over a period of at least two years.
However it seems that the main issues are as follows:
- Dartington College is in a very good financial position and highly valued by higher education funding authorities.
- There is financial encouragement from the government for smaller institutions to merge to make bigger colleges. This is a national trend.
- There is increasing concern nationally that this model is destroying the vital role small colleges play in preserving diversity and specialist knowledge.
- Student accommodation has become one of the primary concerns:
- The college does not own the buildings and needs to apply to the trust for any new building.
- There is a need for investment of some kind to upgrade student accommodation.
The Save Dartington College campaign is adamant that this issue has been blown out of all proportion, The figure of '350 new rooms' is strongly contested - originally a figure of 200 - 250 was mentioned, (this in itself is a very high figure) but was made into 350 when MacAlpine Construction insisted on it. The principal of the college has continued to use this figure regardless. The student population is NOT set to increase. The campaign also contest the figure of £20 million which is based on inflated figures, worst case scenarios and the offering of contracts to large corporations. A number of ecologically friendly and sustainable alternatives have been rejected without explanation.
- The proposed move to Falmouth rests on EU Objective One funding for Cornwall for which the deadline for bids is early Feb 2007. Objective one funding will then come to an end and it is unclear what the long term funding in Cornwall will be.
- Dartington Hall Trust has in recent years had financial difficulties. In the last two years they have appointed a new chief executive whose background is in corporate management. The principal of the college, Andrew Brewerton, also appointed two years ago, was head of design and development at Dartington Glass between 1984 - 1994. In April 1994, Dartington Crystal returned once again to private ownership, following a Management buyout.
- Many of the Trust members do not live locally and may not be aware of the impact their policies will have on the area.
- It is rumoured that members of the trust might favour a very small elite, privately funded, music school for exceptionally talented students, rather than an arts college.
- In recent years Dartington College, Dartington Summer School and Kevics school won a massive award to make this area into one of the three national areas of excellence in music. This has involved a huge amount of money and is known as Dartington Plus. It is unclear how this organisation is involved in this proposed relocation to Falmouth. It has been said that Falmouth is included in the area for which the money was given, and that a relocation would not be a breach of conditions of the funding – however this is unclear.