London Met appoints next vice-chancellor

A long-serving pro vice-chancellor has been named as the new head of London Metropolitan University.

March 19, 2014

John Raftery, who has served as pro vice-chancellor at Oxford Brookes University for nine years covering areas including student experience and international strategy, will succeed current London Met vice-chancellor Malcolm Gillies later this year, the university announced on 19 March.

Professor Gillies is due to retire at the end of the academic year, bringing to a close his eventful four-year tenure at London Met, which he joined in May 2010.

Appointed in the wake of a financial scandal, in which London Met was fined £35 million by England’s funding council for misreporting student numbers, Professor Gillies’ decision to axe hundreds of courses, resulting in the redundancies of many staff, proved controversial.

In August 2012, the university again made headlines after the Home Office stripped it of its licence to sponsor students from outside the EU, costing the institution tens of millions of pounds.

It later partially regained its licence and posted an operational surplus, though student numbers fell significantly last year.

“We are delighted to secure such an outstanding academic and university administrator to succeed Professor Malcolm Gillies, who will leave with our very best wishes for a well-deserved retirement later this year,” said Clive Jones, the university’s chair of governors.

“John’s academic leadership along with his experience leading a well-regarded university’s development of student experience, a modernised portfolio, and his combination of commercial and humanitarian experience stood out to the appointment panel as a good fit to our own priorities and development plans,” Mr Jones added.

Professor Raftery, an expert in applied economics for real estate and construction, was previously Oxford Brookes’ dean of architecture and has also undertaken management consultancy assignments on major public infrastructure projects, and on cartels and restrictive practices in Hong Kong, Scandinavia and the UK.

He was a member of Kofi Annan’s Global Humanitarian Forum (2008-10) and has recently introduced a grade point average system at Oxford Brookes, which will run alongside the traditional degree classification scheme.

On his appointment at London Met, Professor Raftery said he was keen to take forward “the university’s strong mission in an increasingly marketised environment”, adding that he hoped to implement a “significant programme of renewal, academic development, and performance improvement to strengthen our competitive appeal to communities in and beyond the capital city”.

Janet Beer, vice-chancellor of Oxford Brookes, strongly endorsed the appointment of her deputy, saying he had “led the continued improvement of the quality of the student experience at Oxford Brookes”.

“His work has produced real results for our students and the organisation as a whole,” Professor Beer said.

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