THE President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton has announced his retirement.

Professor Sir Christopher Snowden will retire in Spring 2019.

Sir Christopher joined the University in October 2015.

The university hit the headlines this year after Sir Christopher was criticised for accepting a salary of £433,000 from 2016-2017 - making him one of the highest paid university leaders in the country. In the same year redundancies at the university were announced, while lecturers took to the picket lines in a row over pensions.

Now university leaders have thanked Sir Christopher for his contributions and for "streamlining" the institutions structure.

Philip Greenish, Chair of Council, said: “We are deeply grateful to him for his tremendous contribution to and passion for Southampton, and for his relentless drive to create the highest quality education experience for our students, as well as encouraging ground-breaking research with a truly global impact.

“Sir Christopher joined us to enhance Southampton’s reputation as one of the world’s leading universities, and to prepare the University for a rapidly changing higher education environment.

"His transformation strategy and his global ambitions for our University are already delivering successes, with the University now streamlined into a new five-faculty structure" and "finance secured to enable major investment in a better student and staff experience."

In a message to staff and students today, Professor Sir Christopher Snowden said: “I have been privileged and am very proud to have served Southampton as Vice-Chancellor. It is an extraordinary institution, whose public impact globally, nationally and regionally increases every year, and whose staff, students and alumni continue to inspire me daily.

“This has been an extremely hard decision, but with the first stage of our University’s 10-Year transformation plan now successfully delivered, I do feel it is the right time for the University, and for my family and me, to retire.

“There will be time ahead for me to write more personally about my time at Southampton, and to thank all those in our community who have supported, inspired and challenged me in equal measure. In the meantime, I will of course do everything possible in my remaining time at Southampton to ensure my successor has the strongest possible platform on which to drive forward the delivery of our strategy, and ensure the continuing success of this exceptional institution.”

A university spokesperson said: "There is no retirement package. He’ll be paid his current salary until his departure in spring. He receives no pension contributions from the University.

"The formal appointment process for a successor as Vice-Chancellor will commence immediately."