The next chief executive for one of England’s largest college groups, The Bedford College Group, has been announced.
Yiannis Koursis (main image, left) will join The Bedford College Group as chief in January 2024 when Ian Pryce (right), the country’s longest-serving college principal, retires after 25 years at the helm.
Koursis has been principal and chief executive at the ‘outstanding’ Ofsted-rated Barnsley College since April 2019, following several months as acting and interim chief, and serving for more than two-and-a-half years as deputy principal prior to that.
The college group said that handover work has already begun given its size – it is the seventh largest in the country based on funding levels.
Allan Schofield, chair of the governors at The Bedford College who led the recruitment panel, said: “Both I and the corporation are excited to appoint Yiannis as our new chief executive. We are committed to making The Bedford College Group a truly excellent institution leading the region’s training and skills agenda, and we are confident that Yiannis will help us achieve this in building on our already sound foundations.”
The college group merged with Central Bedfordshire College in February, and also includes the National College for Motorsport at Silverstone race circuit, Shuttleworth College and Tresham College.
The group said that its structure meant Koursis will be supported by two deputies and three principals for Bedford, Central Bedfordshire and Northampton.
Pryce said: “I am fortunate to have got to know Yiannis over the last couple of years as members of the FE commissioner’s principals reference group. He has an excellent reputation in the sector and I know he will be great to work with and will take our college group to the next level.”
Koursis has a wealth of experience in the sector. Prior to joining Barnsley College in 2016 he had been vice-principal at Loughborough College for three years, and has also worked at Hackney Community College and West Suffolk College since switching careers from the hotel and hospitality sector in the mid-2000s.
He was awarded an OBE in 2022 and a fellowship by the Royal Society of Arts in 2020 for his work in social progress and development, championing further education to help transform learners’ lives.
He has worked with the Gatsby Foundation and took part in the government’s consultation on the white paper for FE reform.
In January last year he joined the FE principals reference group to support the FE commissioner improve performance in FE colleges, and has also been involved in civic leadership in Barnsley – he serves as part of the CBI Yorkshire and Humber Regional Council and on the Barnsley 2030 board as vice-chair.