THE lecturers’ union has greeted the departure of Bournemouth University chief Paul Curran by saying his legacy would be one of “fear and poor staff morale”.

The vice-chancellor is departing for City University after five years in Bournemouth that have seen radical changes in staff and infrastructure.

During his leadership the university replaced many long-serving staff with newcomers who are focused on research.

It spent millions on new student accommodation, like Corfe House in Poole, and on new academic facilities, like the Executive Business Centre in Bournemouth, and long-term debt has doubled to £20 million.

The university has achieved a string of successes with high research ratings and rises in newspaper league tables, but students have passed motions complaining they do not get enough “face time” with staff.

A spokesman for the UCU said: “Professor Curran’s legacy would be a climate of fear and intimidation which had a devastating impact on staff morale.

“Under Professor Curran 150 staff lost their jobs, students became increasingly critical of teaching arrangements, and employment relations hit at an all-time low.

“The UCU is looking forward to welcoming a new vice-chancellor and expects a say in the appointment of his successor.

“The union believes Professor Curran’s departure was the ideal opportunity to reverse many of the disastrous changes wrought under his leadership and to develop Bournemouth University in ways which focus on its strengths.”

Professor Curran, who was deputy vice-chancellor at Southampton University before Bournemouth, says the changes have increased the university’s “strength, stature and popularity”.

University board chairman Alan Frost said: “His leadership has been pivotal in raising the profile of the university nationally and internationally, as well as here in Dorset.”

A University spokesman said: “Under Professor Curran’s leadership, an environment has been created at BU where staff and students alike are attaining new standards of achievement.

“We’ve never been so actively engaged in research than we are now, a great deal of which is recognised as world-leading. Our status in the league tables has never been higher.

“Our applications are up and there remains a buzz on campus as everyone shares in this success.”