The principal of the Birmingham college at the centre of the row over muslim veils is to step down next year, it has been announced.
But Birmingham Metropolitan College said Dame Christine Braddock’s departure was nothing to do with the controversy.
The college hit the headlines earlier this month when it tried to ban female muslim students from wearing niqabs - the traditional face veils.
It was part of an attempt to strengthen security at the college, which also included banning students from wearing anything which covered their faces, including hoodies and caps.
But the ban infuriated muslim leaders and almost 9,000 people signed a petition and threatened to hold a mass demonstration outside the Matthew Boulton city centre campus.
But shortly before the planned demonstration the college performed a U-turn and dropped its plans and said muslims could continue to wear the veils.
Staff at the college were told just before they went home last Friday that Dame Braddock would be retiring at the end of the academic year next summer.
But a college spokeswoman denied it was anything to do with the veil row.
She said it was always Dame Braddock’s intention to retire next summer because she would be 60.
“We were debating whether we should postpone the announcement until early next year because we didn’t want people to think it was linked to the veil issue,” she said.
“But even if we delayed the announcement people would still think it was due to that so decided to announce it as we originally planned.”
She said they were making it public now - nine months ahead of her retirement - because it gave them time to search for her successor.
Dame Christine has been principal of the college since 1998 and has been credited with turning it around.
Birmingham Metropolitan College has also announced that former KPMG executive Steve Hollis is to be its new chairman.
He takes over from West Midlands Fire Service chief fire officer Vij Randeniya following the completion of his three year term of office.