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Corndel College London appoints new Principal

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Niamh Downing as Principal of our newly-launched Corndel College London: a new higher education initiative that will align education with industry demands through its degree offering.   

Professor Downing brings a wealth of experience and academic expertise to her new role. Currently the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Regent’s University London, she will take up the post in February. 

“I am honoured to be leading Corndel College London as it embarks on its exciting mission to bring education and the working world closer together,” said Professor Downing. Higher education has a vital role to play in helping to transform lives and build the skills and expertise that graduates and employers need to thrive.

“Much of my experience is in forging partnerships with flagship organisations that benefit students, whether that is NGOs, creative industries or business. I look forward to taking this a step further with CCL, delivering tangible outcomes for students and the employers that we partner with.”

According to a report by CMI* 80% of employers feel that graduates aren’t ready for work. Corndel’s recent survey by Opinium** reveals young people also feel that university won’t fully equip them with the right skills for future employment. Just 18% of 16-25 year olds believe university will give them all the skills they need for the workforce and 81% plan to work on their professional development outside of work.

CCL will deliver a radical approach to traditional learning to deliver better outcomes and bridge the gap between education and the working world. Its Degree Apprenticeships in business management and digital technology solutions will launch in Spring 2023, followed by innovative undergraduate degrees with built-in industry exposure from 2024. CCL will also develop further programmes and postgraduate courses in business and digital technology disciplines. 

“We're not just looking to develop graduates who have high-level technical skills, but also to cultivate the human skills that allows them to successfully utilise their technical expertise across diverse industries, whether it's the NHS, energy futures or the creative industries,” said Professor Downing. “Our students will work on live projects with some very prestigious companies – whether they are taking an apprenticeship or non-apprenticeship degree – so that they develop the mindset, skills, and technical abilities, to accelerate their professional future.”

Through the appointment of Professor Downing, Corndel and CCL will benefit from her considerable knowledge and experience from across public and private higher education in the UK.

“Students demand a different kind of education, one that will help them to thrive in uncertainty and shape the future of business and society. At present only 56% of graduates are in full time employment within 15 months of graduating. We believe that by working in partnership with employers to build the right skills and nurture a broad range of talent, we can help provide career certainty for our students and a solid pipeline of new talent for employers,” said Professor Downing. “I’m inspired by the opportunity to build a challenger brand that delivers a different kind of experience for students and employers, which genuinely connects industry with new talent.”

Prior to joining Regent’s University London, Professor Downing held academic leadership positions at Sheffield Hallam University and Falmouth University. She gained her MA and PhD at the University of Exeter in English Literature, and her research expertise is in the field of environmental humanities, a field in which she has held several UKRI funding awards.

James Kelly, CEO of Corndel, said, “I am delighted to congratulate Professor Downing on her appointment as the Principal of Corndel College London. Niamh’s impressive track record in higher education and her passion for the project to establish CCL, made her the clear choice. Through her expertise and leadership we will build a degree offering that delivers the most work-ready graduates in the country and effectively meets employer needs.

As the UK grapples with financial uncertainty and challenges on a global scale, we believe that CCL’s industry-led degree programmes provide welcome reassurance for students who are looking for a tangible return on their investment in education, highly sought-after skills, and a direct route into their chosen career.”

For more information about Corndel and Corndel College London visit and

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