Kitchen degree funding shortfall resolved, but questions remain

Two students who had their industry funding pulled for their final year on the Bucks University Kitchen Design degree course have seen their shortfall covered by the KBSA and TKET (The Kitchen Education Trust).

Both organisations have agreed to pay £1,000 each towards the final year fees for Helen Gunby, a director at family run Connells Kitchens, Bathrooms & Bedrooms Ltd and Clare Welman, from Buildbase in Oxford.

Both have just completed their final year of the Foundation Degree in Kitchen Design at Buckinghamshire New University (BNU), but a £2,000 shortfall in their original sponsorship was unearthed ahead of graduation in September.

Kbbreview revealed that the university is closing the course with no new intake for 2023. Current students will be unaffected.

In a statement issued by the KBSA, student Helen Gunby said: “The fee for the final year came at the end of the academic year rather than the beginning, and the sponsorship we thought we had was no longer available.

“The £1,000 contribution [from the KBSA] means a lot as my business has to make up the difference, and Clare has to fund it herself. We have both learnt so much on the Kitchen Design course, the guest speakers and tutors were so knowledgeable, it is a shame that it will not continue. 

“I will be taking over the running of the family business from my father over the next few years and the course has prepared me well to take this on with confidence.”

In the same statement, Richard Hibbert, national chair at the KBSA, said: “We are pleased that we were able to support Helen and Clare and allow them to graduate. We remain committed to training and education within the industry, and whilst we are saddened that the course is being terminated, we are pleased to be collaborating with TKET and the university to secure the continuation of studies for the remaining students.”

However, it remains unclear where the original shortfall in funding came from. TKET was set up as a registered charity to link the kitchen industry with education and on its website it says it is funded by kitchen brands and, through their donations, sponsors students.

Helen Gunby confirmed to kbbreview that her course cost £5,660 a year and was partially funded by TKET to the tune of £2,000 per year. She received that funding for her first two years, with TKET paying the university direct, however her final year bill was for the full amount.

That final bill, however, only arrived in June as the course was finishing whereas for the previous two years it came at the start of the academic year in September.

While the late arrival of the final year bill is thought to be a significant factor, TKET and the KBSA have declined to explain how the final year shortfall happened saying that no further comment will be made on the matter.

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