Student Protection Plan
Leo Baeck College aims to provide programmes of study which further and advance the study of Judaism and Jewish Education. Thus, it is committed to fostering students’ potential and to enabling them to flourish as far as they are able.
In order to achieve this, the College has put into place arrangements to ensure the quality of its provision and the continuation of study for its students. It has tried to foresee what measures it needs to take in order to mitigate likely risks that could arise. These are the risks which could put in danger its ability to provide courses to its students or to operate as an institution.
Key areas of risk for the College
The risk that the College is unable to operate is low, the financial performance is stable and the college has plans in place to ensure its commitment to its students.
The rabbinic programme lasts 5 years, with new students added annually. To minimise risk, the Governors ensure there are adequate finances to support each cohort through the five year programme before committing to a new intake.
To elaborate, Leo Baeck College has been operating for over 60 years. It is a small College with a turnover of £1.06 million and net assets of £1.9 million.
Income is dependent on the sponsors and donors of the college. The sponsors, Reform Judaism and Liberal Judaism, have funded the College more or less since its inception for a period of close to 60 years. In addition, the College has managed to grow a donor base, which does vary in mix over time and through which it has raised a consistent level of fundraising.
Loss of the Physical Space
The College is situated on the Sternberg Site where it has a long leasehold interest. The responsibility for the site is shared with other institutions and managed by the Manor House Trust. The building is regularly inspected and maintained and annual provision is made for long-term repairs. Adequate insurance for the building is also maintained. The risk of having to relocate is low and only likely to arise in the case of an emergency.
Loss of the IT infrastructure
The College outsources its IT provision to a third party. The risk of suspension of this infrastructure is low.
Closure of a Programme or Course and Major Changes
The College’s provision in Jewish Studies is very stable as it is part of the requirements made of students wishing to be ordained. The nurturing of Jewish rabbis for the Progressive Jewish Community is the core mission of the College and it is therefore unlikely that these courses would be closed or undergo major changes without careful planning. Such changes would in any event require validation or revalidation and be tied into that cycle. The courses in Jewish Education are potentially more vulnerable.
Loss of Validation
The College has six courses validated by Middlesex University. The risk of having validation withdrawn is always potentially there. This is not because of any irregularity on the part of the College which has a good track record in finding collaborative partners and maintaining validation. Rather, any collaboration is dependent on the validating partner and its ability to manage the collaboration. And in our experience changes to a University’s strategy, competition and regulatory pressures can all cause it to withdraw its partnership.Loss of Tier 4
The College holds a sponsor licence under the UK Points Based Immigration System for Tier 4. Having the licence suspended or withdrawn is always a potential risk although so far this had never happened.
Measures in place to mitigate the above risks:
The Board of Governors, through its Finance and Resources Committee, gives detailed consideration to the finances and investments of the College and monitors the financial situation closely. In parallel, the College continues to fundraise both for its operational budget and its long-term endowments. The College also has the sponsorship of the Movements of Reform Judaism and Liberal Judaism. Reform Judaism has also provided a deed of corporate undertaking to the College which would guarantee the completion of students’ training in the case of financial failure.
There is a regular review of long-term cash flow forecasts, investment reviews, annual budgets and reforecasts. Any sudden change in the financial situation would be picked up immediately.
The college has adequate reserves in place to meet its annual financial commitments. Additional work is underway to add an additional £1m to its endowment funds (currently at £792,000) in order to further bolster the reserves of the College. The recent sale of an investment property has ensured adequate liquidity and reserves are in place in the meantime.
There is sufficient business interruption insurance in place to cover the relocation of staff and students for a period of up to 21 months.
Should the College lose the use of the site, students would be notified immediately. Temporary measures would include:
- Relocating to one of the nearby synagogue(s). For teaching purposes the College only requires the use of five to six classrooms. The synagogues are premises which conform to the requirements of the Equalities Act 2010 and as they are local this would eliminate any issues concerning transportation costs.
- Hiring spaces
- Delivering teaching on-line where appropriate. The College already uses on-line tutorials.
Loss of IT Infrastructure
The College has an agreement with Reform Judaism for its IT requirements.
As part of that agreement, the College is covered by the disaster recovery plan currently being developed. (The provider is working with three external organisations and is close to selecting a partner to provide this cover). This will ensure that the College can continue to operate if access cannot be had to the site. The College is already able to access its network offsite and no substantial loss of information is expected.
The third party provider has a disaster recovery plan in place to cover loss of on-site IT servers and adequate insurance to replace the Hardware and Software, if required.
Closure of a Programme or Course and major changes
The College has regulations and procedures for managing change and the closure of units, courses and programmes.
In the event that a decision to close a programme or course was taken, the College would make every effort to ensure that the timing of the closure enabled students already enrolled on the programme or course to complete their studies. The College would also consider what suitable arrangements needed to be put in place for those students who had suspended their studies, or had themselves been suspended or had deferred their studies.
Students would be apprised of the situation immediately after the decision to close the programme or course was taken.
In the unforeseen event of the College being unable to teach out a validated course, a contingency plan is in place with the validating university as part of the Agreement and Memorandum of Cooperation and in which they would take on the responsibility for delivering the course and cover the cost of doing so.
Alternatively, the College would help students to transfer to another university and would ensure that they were provided with the documentation showing what credits had already been achieved. In such a situation the College would refund tuition fees to self-funding students. The amount refunded would depend on what was appropriate in the circumstances.
In the case of the Rabbinic Programme, the College would consult with students and help them transfer to other Rabbinic seminaries.
(b) Significant alteration to a course or programme
As a principle, the College aims to time a major change to a course or programme so that it is delivered according to the information published by the College and does not affect those already enrolled. Information about any intended major change to a unit or programme is brought to the attention of students as soon as it is reasonable to do so. This includes prospective students who have indicated an interest in studying at the College or those who have accepted a place on the affected course.
Should there be a need to make a major change after the course or programme has begun, the College will discuss the implications of the change with the students and work through any consequences.
Should the major change affect a whole unit of a course or programme causing a student to withdraw, the tuition fees will be refunded in full.
Loss of Validation
The College has six courses validated by Middlesex University. In the event of validation being withdrawn, students would normally be able to complete their current courses. The agreement with the collaborative partner includes a contingency plan which stipulates that both institutions are obliged to allow existing students to complete the courses they are enrolled on.
In such circumstances, the College would endeavour to find a new collaborative partner as soon as possible. Students would be notified as soon as it was reasonable to do so.
Current students would be kept abreast of the situation. Since many of the students on the Rabbinic Programme take a number of courses in succession as part of their training for Ordination, the College is committed to running the courses without validation until a suitable collaborative partner can be found. This would not affect their ability to be ordained.
Courses in Jewish education would be suspended until a new collaborative partner was found.
Loss of Tier 4
The College holds a sponsor licence under the UK Points Based Immigration System for Tier 4. Should the licence be suspended or withdrawn, the College will endeavour to appeal the decision and work towards reinstatement of the licence. In such a situation, the College would immediately contact and update all current students with visas as well as prospective students or students who had accepted places at the College for the following academic year. The College would liaise with UKVI and try to have the case of each student addressed according to their circumstances.
The College would commit to holding a place for a student who had an offer until the suspension or withdrawal of the licence was lifted. It would also assist students in finding an alternative course with a different provider who had a licence.
Refund and Compensation Policy
The College refund and compensation policy is included in its Terms and Conditions. This is sent to new applicants and included on the website. Items referring specifically to the refund of tuition fees in cases of non-continuity include the following:
- Withdrawal due to the discontinuation of an award or unit
Fees will be refunded in full to fee-paying students, if the course on which students have received a place is discontinued.
If a unit within a programme is discontinued, fees will be refunded in full provided that students withdraw before the course begins.
- Transfer to another institution following unexpected closure of a course or programme after it has started
In the unforeseen event of the College being unable to teach out a validated course, a contingency plan is in place with the validating university which will deliver the course at no additional cost to students registered on the course. In the event that students transfer to an alternative institution to complete the course, the corresponding sum of tuition fees will be refunded. In this case the students will be responsible for the arrangements with the alternative institution. If students are in receipt of a bursary from a sponsor they must make they own arrangements with that sponsor.
- Payment of travel costs due to the unexpected relocation to an alternative site
In the event that students are relocated to an alternative site beyond London tube zones 1 – 3, the College will refund any additional travel costs that are incurred throughout the relocation period.
The College will make every effort to offer support, find solutions and issue refunds as described in its Student Protection Plan in the event of a closure of a programme/course, or in the event of major change to a programme. Any requests for compensation beyond the refund described in the Student Protection Plan will be discussed on a one-to-one basis and is dependent upon the circumstances of that particular closure or change.
Communicating with students on the Student Protection Plan
The student body as a whole and through its representatives on the Academic Board is consulted on the development and updating of the Student Protection Plan. Students are invited to contribute to the ongoing discussion and provide suggestions and amendments for consideration.
A similar dialogue takes place in other College forums (Course Teams and the Academic Board) to enable faculty to understand the implications of the Student Protection Plan with regards to closure of courses and proposed major changes. The regulations on Programme Design, Approval, Monitoring and Review has been updated to reflect the implications of the plan.
The plan, is available to all applicants and students and disseminated in the following ways:
- Publication on CollegeNet
- Inclusion in the agenda for Induction Week
- Inclusion in the documents sent to new applicants when they receive a letter of offer from the College.
Should this plan need to be triggered, the College will inform students as soon as it is reasonable to do so. In addition, student representatives on the Academic Board, Course Team Boards and Board of Governors will be apprised of the situation.
The College has a Complaints procedure which can be used to make a complaint about the implementation of the plan.
Frequency of Review
The responsibility for keeping the plan up to date will remain with the SMT and brought to the attention of the Board of Governors for its approval. The plan will be reviewed by the SMT on a yearly basis and reported to the Board of Governors every two years.