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Nelson College Addresses Debt

The Nelson College Board has decided to repay its historical debt to consolidate its financial position and focus more clearly on its core business of providing a world-class education to the young men of Nelson.

“Our priority is our ākonga (students). The Board is committed to consolidating the college’s financial position so that we can deliver our kaupapa of providing a world-class education for the young men of Nelson.” says Deleece Hall, Board Chair.

The Board is committed to creating a sustainable operating model that will support high-quality teaching and learning at Nelson College.

Nelson College is currently in debt of $2.9 million (as at 30th June, 2021) and expects this to deteriorate if no action is taken. This debt results from the college’s decision to renovate two of its boarding houses between 2015 and 2018.

The Board has developed a strategy to address its debt. It has had this strategy reviewed independently and is now working positively with the Ministry of Education to resolve its financial situation. The MOE recently confirmed that the college is a going concern and that current payments associated with the debt are within MOE guidelines.

The original business plan had an expectation that the renovations would result in 190 boarders per annum. This didn’t eventuate. A loan of $2 million was taken out from Westpac in 2019, along with an overdraft facility of $1.5 million. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the situation by diminishing the college’s international student income since 2020. The college doesn’t expect international income to fully resume until 2023 at the earliest, and its revised financial plans don’t depend on international student income. The majority of Nelson College’s boarders have always been from New Zealand rural families.

Through this, Nelson College students continue to excel academically. NCEA results are well above national averages and in 2020, the college achieved its best ever results in NCEA.

The Board and college have developed three exciting strategic goals for junior curriculum, student behaviour and academic excellence; and are implementing these as part of a larger five year strategic plan.

“We’re excited about the college’s vision. The Headmaster and college staff are working hard to provide quality academic and co-curricular opportunities to our rangatahi.” says Hall.

The college is also investing in the Arts. In collaboration with Nelson College for Girls it has increased the number of performance groups and ran a combined college’s junior production – Back to the 80’s. This is alongside other successful co-curricular programmes such as Kapa Haka and sports.

The Board and college are working closely with whānau, Old Boys, the Ministry of Education, and other stakeholders to deliver a world-class education in Nelson.

“We’re working closely with the Ministry and other stakeholders to manage this process. We’re confident that we can retire our historic debt and put the college on a sound financial footing for the future.” says Richard Dykes, Headmaster of Nelson College. “Repaying this debt will reduce the financial pressure on the college especially as interest rates are likely to rise, and allow us to focus positively on our academic, cocurricular and pastoral programmes for our students/ākonga.” says Dykes.

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