Project Knot


Two General Further Education (GFE) colleges both affected by funding cuts and sector reforms received Area Review recommendations to merge. This was a complex situation requiring a high level of financial restructuring support across a diverse stakeholder group, and within a tight TU application timetable.


  • Proposed merger of two GFE colleges
  • Colleges were complying with area based review recommendations
  • Substantial debt burdens
  • Both affected by funding cuts and sector reforms
  • Efficiency opportunities to be leveraged


  • Legacy debt
  • Complex estates situation
  • Operational inefficiencies
  • Management team needed strengthening
  • Substantial restructuring support needed to secure viable, sustainable merged entity
  • Complex lender matrix, both for existing debt and new loans
  • Tight timetable to submit strategic business plan and TU application
  • Lack of skills/ knowledge in dealing with lender / funder expectations

How we helped:

  • Engaged with TU and Bank
  • Guided Management at critical point, immediately ahead of TU submission
  • Provided constructive challenge of strategic plan, forecasts & key assumptions
  • Helped shape structure of support needed from TU
  • Contributed to key elements of TU application form
  • Provided support to Management post submission
  • Ongoing provision of post merger support; critical for lender / funder confidence


  • Successful application to TU submitted
  • Supported by a robust business plan
  • Merger completed
  • Bank and other lender positions secured, and confidence increased
  • Stakeholder positions and expectations clear
  • Clarity over future direction for merged entity
  • Exciting estates proposition; powerful proposition for learners

Benefits at a glance:

  • Clear, credible application to TU secured funding offer
  • Management received clear, timely and practical advice, at critical point
  • Constructive challenge aided delivery of a robust plan
  • Support and guidance enabled management to make sound decisions, at pace
  • Expertise of dealing with funders in distressed scenarios
  • Stakeholder group have confidence in successful implementation of plan
  • Continuity of turnaround advice post merger to support delivery of plan

@ESeducationlaw A good read. It will be key for both HE and FE institutions to drive through operational changes,…