David Leyland, Southampton Institute's controversial director, has agreed to take early retirement at the end of August.
The news was announced to staff by governors at a meeting last Friday. It follows two years of campus unrest, which Brian Fender, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, recently warned was exposing the institute to "significant risk".
Union leaders have been criticising Professor Leyland's management style since July 1995, when a survey revealed low staff morale.
Since then critical reports from the Higher Education Quality Council and Nottingham Trent University, which validates the institute's degrees, have been accompanied by votes of no confidence in management.
An open meeting of staff last Thursday brought calls for the resignation of David Smith, the institute's chair of governors, and Ian Pirie, vice chair, along with demands for Professor Leyland's departure.
In a statement, Professor Leyland said he firmly believed most staff appreciated his achievements over the past eight years as director. But he added: "The benefit to the institution and to the individual incumbent of the post of director cannot be maintained indefinitely and accordingly I have accepted the governors' offer of early retirement to enable me to pursue other interests and to provide the institute with the opportunity to bring in a different leadership."
The institute has not yet revealed what retirement package has been agreed for Professor Leyland, although it will be required to include it in its annual accounts.
Natfhe, the lecturers' union, said it would strongly oppose any lump-sum payment. It has called for the full implementation of the recommendations of an independent report published in November last year, which said a new style of leadership was needed at the institute.
Opinion, page 12