University of Law v-c Craig Mahoney exits after just six months

‘Reassessment of his priorities’ said to be behind swift departure of former West of Scotland leader

August 5, 2022
Craig Mahoney

The vice-chancellor of one of the UK’s leading private universities has left after just six months in the job.

Craig Mahoney joined the University of Law in February after eight years leading the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), but departed from his new role last month.

The for-profit institution, which is owned by Netherlands-based Global University Systems (GUS), attributed the decision to a “reassessment of [Professor Mahoney’s] priorities”. It has reappointed Andrea Nollent, the University of Law’s leader from 2014 to 2021, as vice-chancellor, following her stint as GUS’ chief academic officer.

When Professor Mahoney was hired, Lord Blunkett, the institution’s chair, said that the appointment would drive forward the University of Law’s “expansion and diversification”, in part through partnerships with other providers in the UK and overseas. As well as law courses, the university also offers courses in areas such as business and psychology.

However, unlike Professor Nollent, Professor Mahoney did not have a background in law, with his expertise lying in performance psychology instead. Prior to leading UWS, Professor Mahoney was chief executive of the Higher Education Academy and deputy vice-chancellor of Northumbria University.

His LinkedIn profile now describes himself as a “self-employed” vice-chancellor, “working with clients across higher education and related sectors. Ready to share my dreams with the right employer.”

A University of Law spokeswoman said: “Following a reassessment of his priorities, Professor Craig Mahoney has left his role as vice-chancellor and CEO of the University of Law. 

“We are pleased to announce that Professor Andrea Nollent, who has been providing academic leadership to the GUS Group, has agreed to return to the university as vice-chancellor and CEO, a position that she held between 2014-21.  

“Her transition back reflects the significant emphasis placed on the quality of our legal education whilst building on the success of our emerging diversification portfolio.”

Professor Mahoney declined to comment.

In his inaugural lecture at the University of Law – now removed from its website – Professor Mahoney said that he wanted to hear staff and students’ “honest opinion” about the institution and his leadership.

“Tell me what you think about the university, about your experience working here, about what you think the students are experiencing, what you think about me?” Professor Mahoney said.

“I want that level of honesty, that openness and honesty. I don’t mind being told, ‘Craig, you’ve got it wrong’ – that’s not a problem with me. I really do want people to open up.”

In the lecture Professor Mahoney also raised concerns about the underfunding of Scottish universities – a topic that he has previously spoken out about – and about the level of debt faced by graduates in England.

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