Stella suspended following FE Commissioner intervention

A principal at the centre of a college expenses scandal has been suspended, FE Week can reveal.

Stella Mbubaegbu is no longer running Highbury College following intervention from the FE Commissioner this week, who has now moved the college into “supervised college status”.

The college’s chair, Tim Mason, is also set to step down and be replaced by a National Leader of Governance.

The commissioner was sent into Highbury by Department for Education minister Lord Agnew after FE Week revealed the principal claimed £150,000 expenses in four years.

The spending included numerous first class flights, five-star hotels, travel in luxury cars, a £350 bill – including a £45 lobster and nearly £100 on cocktails – at a Michelin star restaurant, and a £434 pair of designer headphones.

Mbubaegbu last month announced her intention to retire from Highbury in the summer next year.

A spokesperson was keen to stress that Mbubaegbu officially “remains chief executive and principal of Highbury College” but said it would be “inappropriate to comment on an individual’s status” when asked about her suspension.

In a separate statement, Mason said the commissioner has “indicated” that he will support the college to “strengthen our leadership and governance”.

He will be arranging for a National Governance Leader to chair the board “during this period of supervision”.

“I have agreed to step aside and I welcome this intervention for the good of the college, staff and students,” Mason added.

“I would like to reassure all staff that the FE Commissioner, the board and the college leadership team are committed to providing a stable environment for our students and staff. I would also like to take this opportunity to personally thank you for your continued support.”