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Ken Merry

Ken Merry appointed as new Principal and Chief Executive of York College & University Centre

Ken Merry has been appointed as York College & University Centre’s new Principal and Chief Executive.

The college’s Governing Body has made the announcement following a thorough search and selection process that has been conducted over recent months with the support of external organisation FE Associates.

This culminated in an assessment event last week during which the views of students, staff, the Strategic Leadership Team, and external stakeholders were heard.

Ken has been serving as Acting Chief Executive and Principal since October 2023.

Following his appointment in the role on a permanent basis, Ken said: “I am both delighted and humbled to have been given the opportunity to lead the wonderful York College & University Centre as the next Chief Executive and Principal. I thank the Board of Governors for putting their faith in me and allowing me to build on the great work we have already started during the last six months whilst I have held the role on a temporary basis.

“It is an honour and a privilege to become the latest custodian of this great, historic college. I am committed to making York College a truly brilliant institution leading the region’s training and skills agenda, whilst ensuring that the college becomes a key partner in the communities we serve. I look forward to working closely with staff, students, apprentices, and stakeholders as we continue to support people to thrive through a high-quality and impactful education offer across York and North Yorkshire.”

Ken was initially appointed as College’s Deputy Chief Executive and Principal in June 2023.

He arrived at Sim Balk Lane having formerly been the Vice Principal for Quality at Barnsley College, where he helped the South Yorkshire institution achieve an “Outstanding” Ofsted grade in 2022.

Ken started out in education as an A Level Travel and Tourism teacher at New College Pontefract and has also served as one of Her Majesty's Inspectors for Ofsted.

York College building in the sun WEB
Ken is committed to making York College a truly brilliant institution that leads the region’s training and skills agenda

He grew up on a Rotherham Council Estate where, he has previously stated, youngsters generally ended up “either at a Further Education college or in prison” and he believes, for him, education provided a means of “changing his life”.

Ken is also a trustee of the Prisoners’ Education Trust and, outside of work, is a passionate Rotherham United fan and enjoys reading crime thrillers, swimming and travelling.

Confirming Ken’s appointment, Ian Looker, the Chair of Governors, said: “On behalf of the Governing Body, I am delighted to announce that Ken Merry has been appointed as the new Principal and Chief Executive of York College & University Centre. This follows a meeting of the Governing Body last night that approved the appointment, which takes place with immediate effect.

“Many of you will know Ken already. He joined the College in 2023 as deputy Chief Executive and Principal and has been Acting Chief Executive and Principal in recent months. The governors have been impressed with the leadership Ken has provided to date and are confident that he will continue to provide the right leadership for York College in the future, reflecting its core values and leading it towards a successful future.

“Please join me in congratulating Ken on this well-deserved appointment.”