The woman who oversaw the birth of Scotland’s biggest college is stepping down after two years in the hot seat.
Mandy Exley will leave Edinburgh College – created by the merger of Stevenson, Telford and Jewel & Esk in 2012 – at the end of the academic year.
Ms Exley said she planned to pursue “different business interests”.
Under her stewardship, Edinburgh College has pocketed scores of international academic prizes, while the principal herself was also nominated as a UK further education leader of the year.
The institution has also boasted a 94 per cent success rate in students moving on to further study or permanent employment.
Ms Exley said: “These first two years of building Edinburgh College have been challenging yet extremely rewarding.
“I am particularly proud of the success of our students, the wide range of national awards they have won and the high level of student achievement.
“All this would not have been possible without the commitment of our staff.
“The time is right for me now to use my skills in a new venture.
“I am developing different business interests, including some non-executive director roles, and plan to fulfil my long-held desire to work in international developments.”
College bosses have come under fire in recent times for decisions made as part of a £1.7 million cost-cutting exercise. In May, the college announced that 70 jobs, including dozens of teaching posts, would be axed in a bid to balance the books.
Extra cash from the Scottish Government is expected to be pumped into the college next year to make up the shortfall.
Student leaders today praised Ms Exley’s work and said they hoped to be asked for their input as her successor is chosen.
In an “unprecedented move” when the colleges were merged two years ago, prospective representatives of the Edinburgh College Student Association (ECSA) made up part of the recruitment panel tasked with appointing a principal.
Jeroen van Herk, president of the ECSA, said: “Mandy has always shared our belief that colleges must be better funded to support the ambitions of our students.
“We look forward to being heavily involved with the college in appointing our incoming principal and wish Mandy all the best for the future.”
College officials said they planned to begin the recruitment process as soon as possible to ensure a new principal was installed by the start of the next academic year.
Ian McKay, chair of the board at Edinburgh College, said: “Mandy has led us through these formative years of Edinburgh College, culminating in the college receiving the highest rating possible in its inspection by Education Scotland earlier this year.
“Her relationship with business and commerce is excellent, and I wish her well in the next stage of her career.”