Stella Mbubaegbu, 64 on Sunday, revealed today she will retire in July 2020 after nearly 19 years in the job at the Cosham further education institution.
The seasoned educator said she will 'dearly’ miss students and staff at the college.
In an interview with Tes – formerly known as the Times Education Supplement – Ms Mbubaegbu said: ‘I don’t have any intention of leaving the sector.’
She added: ‘I have absolutely no regrets over expenses. All my expenses have been approved through college process. They have been audited. Why would I regret anything? My expenses have been duly approved, accounted for and audited.’
Lord Agnew, a Department for Education minister, told FEWeek he was ‘deeply concerned’ about the expenses expenditure.
But Ms Mbubaegbu said: ‘I did not read Lord Agnew’s criticism. I don’t know what he said. I think if that is what he said, I believe he probably did not have the full context of what he was responding to.’
In a statement published on the college website, she said: ‘I deeply care about and am extremely proud of Highbury College. It has been an immense joy and privilege to serve the college, its diverse communities and the wider FE sector over the past two decades.
‘My overriding priority has been and remains the success of all our students and staff.
‘They have touched my life in so many ways, inspiring, challenging and motivating me to do better. I wish each and every one of them continued future success. I will miss them dearly.’
The principal said she told the board of governors this summer she would go at the end of July next year.
‘Whilst I look forward to the future with excitement and to discovering my unique calling for this next season, there is much to be done before then,' she said in her statement.
‘The board will be initiating the search for my successor in the coming weeks, with my full support and I will focus on continuing to lead this amazing college and its amazing staff and students with passion and commitment.’
Ms Mbubaegbu leaves the college at a time it has seen huge budget reductions and is now graded by Ofsted as requires improvement.
Her statement added: ‘I am proud of my contributions to Highbury, steering the college through the turbulent times that FE has seen over the past eight years with funding cuts and policy changes, positioning Highbury on the global education map, the transformation of the college estate, the uncompromising approach to educational and social inclusion and our Ofsted outstanding for 7 years.'