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Emerging HE policies highlight new political landscape

Interventionism is suddenly all the rage with the Westminster Conservative government, and higher education is feeling the impact as new policies and legislation are brought to bear on the sector, writes Johnny Rich, Chief Executive of Push and of the Engineering Professors’ Council.

Pressure and pension changes drive marked turnover in VCs

A third of all vice-chancellors have left their posts or announced their intention to leave in the past two years, leading to a marked churn at the top in universities, an HEi-know analysis has found.

As many as 47 (33 per cent) have quit their jobs or given notice that they are stepping down in the past 24 months out of 139 universities surveyed - and more than a dozen vice-chancellor jobs remain unfilled.

The churn at the top of university management teams is despite significant increases in vice-chancellors' pay in recent years, with remuneration packages for VCs now worth an average £260,000 a year.

Some vice-chancellors have made career moves while others have left quietly with minimum publicity, citing health problems. In some cases departures have been sudden and unexpected, leaving questions over reasons behind the decision. English institutions have seen the most departures, but three Scottish universities have experienced change at the top, as have two in Northern Ireland and one in Wales.

Vice-chancellors leaving their posts include nine from Russell Group universities, including Bristol, Durham, Imperial College London, Leeds, Liverpool, Queen’s University Belfast, Southampton, Warwick and York.

Commentators suggest the turnover may be due to an increasingly competitive and commercial culture in higher education, along with concern over the impact of tax changes on pensions.

Read the full analysis: HE Insight paper 08


Departures and Arrivals: Turnover of VCs




Departing Vice-Chancellor


Reason for leaving

Succeeded by

 Mark Cleary

University of Bradford

Summer 2007 to 1 October 2013. Retired age 59

Brian Cantor who left York where he was VC

Sir Eric Thomas

University of Bristol

Retirement. Age 62. Leaving August 2015.

Hugh R. Brady from Sept 2015

Terence Kealey


Retirement “with almost immediate effect”. Age 63. Was v-c April 2001 to August 2014


Ruth Farwell

Buckinghamshire New University

Retirement.  Jan 2006-Feb 2015

Rebecca Bunting

Robin Baker

Canterbury Christ Church University

Resigned in October 2012

Rama Thirunamachandran took over on 1 Oct 2013

Malcolm McVicar

University of Central Lancashire

Retired. Was vc from 1 Oct 1998-Aug 2013

Gerry Kelleher took over in Sept 2013

Madeleine Atkins

 Coventry University

Appointed chief exec of Hefce 1 Jan 2014

John Latham took over in March 2014

Sir John O’Reilly

Cranfield University

Left in Feb 2013 to become Director General of Knowledge and Innovation at BIS: a post he has since left.

Sir Peter Gregson left his job at Queen’s Belfast to become V-c in Aug 2013

John Coyne

University of Derby

Retiring summer 2015. Joined August 2004


Chris Higgins

Durham University

He took early retirement on 30 Sept 2014 after Senate discussed whether to reduce his powers



Acting VC is Prof Ray Hudson

Edward Acton

University of East Anglia

Retired in September 2014 at age of 65. Was VC from 2009-2014

Professor David Richardson

Patrick McGhee

University of East London

Stepped down suddenly in Jan 2013 on health grounds.

Professor John Joughin appointed in July 2013. He was acting VC for 6 months and before that deputy VC for two and a half years

Prof Dame Joan Stringer

Edinburgh Napier University

Retired. VC from Jan 2003-June 2013

Prof Andrea Nolan

Michael Scott

Glyndwr University

Announced he was standing down with immediate effect. Will formally leave on 31 March 2015.


Graham Upton is new interim VC

Steve Chapman


Announced that he was leaving to run Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia in early 2015


James M Fraser

University of the Highlands and Islands

Was the first VC when UHI became a university in 2011. Had been Principal since Oct 2009

Professor Clive Mulholland became Principal and Vice-Chancellor in June 2014

Sir Keith O’Nions

Imperial College London

Retired in August 2014

Professor Alice Gast who came from President post at Lehigh University

Nick Foskett

Keele University

Announced he was leaving to pursue “a number of academic and personal opportunities”. This will take effect in summer of 2015 when he is 60. He started VC role in August 2010.


Nigel Savage

University of Law


John Latham appointed Provost and CEO as from 23 Sept 2013

Michael Arthur

University of Leeds

Left at the end of August 2013 to become President and Provost at UCL

Sir Alan Langlands, who left the job of Chief Executive of Hefce to become VC of Leeds on 1 Oct 2013

Susan Price

Leeds Beckett University

Retiring end Sept 2015 after leading the institution since Jan 2010


Sir Bob Burgess

University of Leicester

Retired in summer 2014, having led institution since 1999

Paul Boyle, former chief exec of the Economic and Social Research Council

Sir Howard Newby

University of Liverpool

Retired, having led the university since 2008

Janet Beer, former VC of Oxford Brookes University

Malcolm Gillies

London Metropolitan University

Retired last summer

John Raftery, former pro VC at Oxford Brookes

Martin Earwicker

London South Bank University

Retired in summer 2013 after four years at the helm

Prof David Phoenix, former deputy VC at UCLAN

John Brooks

Manchester Metropolitan University

Retiring June 2015 after 10 years running the institution

Professor Malcolm Press, pro VC at University of Birmingham

Michael Driscoll

Middlesex University

He is retiring after almost 20 years as VC

Professor Tim Blackman, formerly acting VC at the OU

Neil Gorman

Nottingham Trent

He retired in the summer of 2014 after 11 years in post

Edward Peck took over in August 2014 from pro VC role at Birmingham

Martin Bean

Open University

He left in Feb 2015 to take up the top job at RMIT University in Australia

Peter Horrocks, director of the BBC’s World Service, takes over on 5 May 2015

Janet Beer

Oxford Brookes

Left to run University of Liverpool in February 2015 after having been VC of Oxford Brookes since 2007

Alistair Fitt, who was a pro VC at Oxford Brookes

Wendy Purcell

University of Plymouth

Is still at the university but is not running it, after been suspended for a period by Sir William Taylor, then chairman of governors

David Coslett is currently the interim chief executive with overall responsibility for running the university

John Craven

University of Portsmouth

Retired in July 2013 after running the university for 16 years

Professor Graham Galbraith, deputy VC at University of Hertfordshire, took over in September 2013

Sir Peter Gregson

Queen’s University, Belfast

Left to take over the reins at Cranfield University on 1 August 2013 after nine years in Belfast

Professor Patrick Johnson took over in March 2014

Martin Hall

University of Salford

Stepped down suddenly after six years. He will return to South Africa.


Prof Helen Marshall has been acting VC since the New Year

Philip Jones

Sheffield Hallam

Has announced he is retiring in spring 2016 after nine years. He will be 65 in Oct 2015


Van Gore

Southampton Solent University

Retired in August 2014, having led the university since 2007

Professor Graham Baldwin, formerly deputy VC of UCLAN

Don Nutbeam

University of Southampton

Has announced his decision to leave. Has been VC since 2008


Margaret Noble

University of St Mark and St John

Left unexpectedly in Sept 2012 to run a tertiary institution in New Zealand

Cara Aitchison took over in May 2013

Peter Fidler

University of Sunderland

Retired. Took up newly created post as president of the university in Sept 2014, two years before he planned to retire

Shirley Atkinson is interim VC and chief executive

Graham Henderson

Teesside University

Retiring August 2015 having served 12 years

Paul Croney, deputy VC at Northumbria, to take over

Sir Richard Barnett

University of Ulster

Retiring end of March 2015

Paddy Nixon, formerly deputy VC at the University of Tasmania

Sir Nigel Thrift

University of Warwick

Has announced his decision to retire. He will leave at the end of 2015


Seamus McDaid

University of the West of Scotland

Retired July 2013 after 8 years

Craig Mahoney, former chief exec of Higher Education Academy

Brian Cantor

University of York

Left unexpectedly early in summer of 2013

Koen Lamberts took over in January 2014

David Fleming

York St John University

Has announced he will retire in September 2015 due to ill health


Paul Webley

School of Oriental and African Studies

Has announced he will step down in 2015 owing to ill health


Sir Rick Trainor

King’s College London

Retired in 2014 to become rector of Exeter College Oxford

Edward Byrne, former president and VC at Monash University, Australia

flynt / 123RF