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Political high-flyer wanted to run AOC

A high-profile person, with political nous and "an unflappable temperament" will be offered a package worth about #163;100,000 to lead the Association of Colleges.

The organisation is advertising for a new chief executive whom they want to become "the champion for further education". He or she will have a staff of 25 and operate a budget of Pounds 3 billion. They will fill the vacancy created by Roger Ward, the former chief executive, who departed earlier this year after The TES revealed that he was receiving undisclosed consultancy payments.

The AOC, whose board met for the first time this week after the recess, has firmly decided that it wants a political high-flyer to lead it, rather than an efficient administrator.

This lessens the chances of Sue Dutton, the acting chief executive, getting the job and may also dampen the hopes of some college principals. Many on the board are looking for a complete outsider - albeit one with knowledge of further education - who could give the Association a fresh beginning.

Mr Ward had been earning a salary of around Pounds 85,000 but Jim Scrimshaw, chair of the AOC board, stressed that the package now being offered was not a Pounds 15,000 increase in salary but included a pension and a contribution to a car.

Asked if the new incumbent would be getting a Jaguar, like Mr Ward, Jim Scrimshaw said: "I think a Jaguar is environmentally irresponsible. Nor do I think it is appropriate for the Association."

Currently five members of the Association have company cars, which Mr Scrimshaw said was necessary because of the nature of their posting.

Candidates for the post need to send in their applications to Barkers Response Services in Slough, by September 16. Shortlisting will take place on September 23 and successful candidates will be invited for interview in London on October 12.

The successful candidate must be a graduate and have evidence of recent updating in their own professional field. Mr Scrimshaw said the post might well suit someone who had missed out on education first time round and gone to a further education college before progressing to higher education.They must have at least five years of successul leadership and senior management experience in a significant public or private sector organisation.

Chief among the personal qualities the successful candidate must demonstrate are a "personal and professional commitment to the Nolan principles (Standards in Public Life) of open governance and management, and a high level of personal credibility and integrity."

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