The head of the UK’s grouping of small research-intensive universities will become vice-chancellor of Wollongong University in New South Wales at the end of this year. He will succeed Gerard Sutton, who has held the post for the past 16 years.
Professor Wellings will leave Lancaster in December 2011. His three-year term of office at the 1994 Group had been scheduled to run until August 2012.
The Wollongong post marks a return to Australia for Professor Wellings, who has dual British/Australian citizenship.
He was born in the UK and moved to Australia in 1981 as a research ecologist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
From 1997 to 1999, he was head of the Innovation and Science Division, Department of Industry, Science and Resources, Canberra, and in 1999 he became deputy chief executive of CSIRO.
Professor Wellings is also a board member of the Higher Education Funding Council for England and chair of its Research and Innovation Committee.
Bryan Gray, Lancaster’s pro-chancellor, said: “Paul has been an exceptional leader over nine years at Lancaster. The university has been transformed and its academic reputation greatly enhanced…He has championed the work of the university on the national stage and made the university more outward-looking. We are sad to lose such a creative and energetic leader and wish him every success in the future.”
Mr Gray added that Lancaster had begun a “global search” for a new vice-chancellor.
Jillian Broadbent, Wollongong’s chancellor, said: “Professor Wellings is an experienced vice-chancellor with an exceptional track record and a deep understanding of policies influencing research and higher education globally.”