Barnett to quit the top job at University of Ulster
One of Northern Ireland's top academics is quitting.
University of Ulster vice chancellor Professor Richard Barnett will leave next spring after nine years, sparking a search for his successor.
The decision gives the academic an opportunity to pursue other work interests.
The university's council will lead the recruitment to appoint a successor to Prof Barnett, who remains in his post until March next year.
Until then he will lead organisational strategy and the next steps in infrastructure projects, including the Belfast city campus development.
The 61-year-old joined the university in April 2006.
He said: "In my years as vice chancellor, over 30,000 students have graduated from the University of Ulster.
"The optimism, potential and achievement of our fantastic students are a constant reminder of the value of a university education.
"Ulster's commitment to student choice and graduate opportunity has been a constant priority, and during my time as vice chancellor it has been rewarding to introduce new courses such as engineering at the Magee campus and pharmacy at Coleraine."
Gerry Mallon, chair of the university's council, praised Prof Barnett for "his personal commitment to widening access and participation in higher education".
He added: "He has provided steady leadership, stabilising the university's financial position during a period of significant changes in higher education and against the backdrop of sustained economic challenges."