Principal takes helm at new UK university

22nd July 2005 at 01:00
When universities appoint vice-chancellors, they normally want one steeped in academia who holds a senior post in a similar institution.

But Bolton university, the newest in the UK, has appointed George Holmes, principal of Doncaster college. He is believed to be the first FE college principal to become a university vice-chancellor. At 44, he will also be the youngest leader of a British university.

Of the eight people shortlisted, he was the only one not to hold a senior post at a large university.

"I have heard of college principals becoming deans at universities," he said, "But I don't know of any other head of an FE institution becoming head of a university."

He is leaving Doncaster college after nearly five years in charge, in which time its income has risen from pound;25 million to pound;38m a year.

The college has also begun the biggest education project in the UK - the Pounds 90m construction of Doncaster Education City, a theme park-style building due to open in September 2006.

Dr Holmes said: "There are some regrets about leaving before the project I helped to initiate is completed, but the Bolton job was something I could not turn down.

"During my career, I have straddled both sectors and found them both very satisfying. But my heart has always been in HE. The pursuit of scholarship and knowledge is something I have been hungry for from an early age."

He began his career as a business studies and economics lecturer at Wakefield college, and moved to HE before taking the job at Doncaster college in January 2001. He was deputy vice-chancellor of the University of North London.

He will take up his new job at Bolton in September. It became a university last year, having previously been an HE institute.

Mr Holmes dismissed a story in Private Eye this week which suggested his departure had been prompted by the Learning and Skills Council's unhappiness with his leadership.

He said: "I am just gobsmacked. It is all just completely untrue. Our lawyers need to look at this. I shall have to consider whether to treat Private Eye as a ridiculous comic and just ignore it, or to sue.

"Would the LSC give the biggest capital grant ever - some pound;20m - to a college in which it didn't have confidence in its leadership?

"It could be funny if it wasn't so completely wrong."

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now