Fintan Donohue has retired from his role as chief executive of the Gazelle Colleges Group after more than four years at the helm.

Mr Donohue said that Carolyn Chapman-Lees, Gazelle’s executive director, would be the troubled group’s “key contact going forward”, in an email to FE Week today.

It is the first confirmation seen by FE Week that he has left the post, and comes after Mr Donohue said in early December that he would be retiring by December 31.

Gazelle first revealed that he would be retiring “in December after advising the group of his decision to do so earlier in the year” back in September, at the same time as the outcome of Gazelle’s long-running membership review.

Gazelle chair, and principal of Highbury College, Portsmouth, Stella Mbubaegbu said at the time: “All of the members, past and present pay tribute to the vision and ground breaking thinking that Fintan has brought to the enterprise and entrepreneurship agenda in our sector.”

A spokesperson for the Gazelle Colleges Group said the chief executive role “will not be replaced at this point in time”.

The Gazelle Colleges Group was formed in 2011 and claimed to “develop innovative new learning models and new partnerships with business to deliver an improved outcome for students, their communities and the economy”.

During Mr Donohue’s time at the head of the group membership had dropped from a high of 23 colleges to just 10, as reported by FE Week in September.

It had also slashed its membership fees by over half, from £35k to just £15k.

In 2014, Gazelle was the subject of an FE Week investigation which found that colleges had paid more than £3.5m in membership fees with no evidence of the benefits of Gazelle membership.

Mr Donohue is listed on Companies House as a director for Public Sector Entrepreneurship Ltd, which was incorporated on November 6. Signe Sutherland, who was deputy principal of North Hertfordshire College while Mr Donohue was principal, and became principal after Mr Donohue, is also listed as a director for the new company.

Neither Mr Donohue nor Ms Chapman-Lees was available for comment further at the time of going to press.


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