The head of the University of East Anglia has resigned amid ongoing financial turmoil at the institution, which is cutting staff as it seeks to slash millions of pounds from its budget.

David Richardson, who has been at the university for more than 30 years, has announced he is stepping down as vice chancellor after nine years in the reported £270,000 role.

His resignation comes days after its redundancy-threatened staff were informed a financial black hole facing the university is far worse than first feared.

In January, the university announced it would be making compulsory redundancies after suffering a £13.9m loss.

Eastern Daily Press: The Ziggurat buildings at the UEA

Staff were warned bosses needed to shave 12pc from the budget to avoid a £37m deficit in the next three years.

But last week, a further email to staff warned the situation was much worse, with the deficit actually expected to be £45m.

The university has blamed its struggles on a combination of rising energy costs - which it says have increased by around £5m in the past year - reduced student numbers and a greater number of dropouts.

The number of overseas students, in particular, has fallen since the pandemic.

Its latest blow saw a drop in the number of applicants for the next academic year.

But with these issues also experienced by universities across the higher education system, many experts believe there is more to the UEA's own struggles.

Eastern Daily Press: Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Photo: Mark Tillie

Clive Lewis, MP for the university's constituency of Norwich South, said "comparable institutions" were not facing the same crisis.

He said there would be implications for the wider region if the UEA did not recover and voiced fears it was being placed in a "death spiral".

"There are some very serious questions that need to be answered on how it got to this stage," he added. "We have to get to the bottom of this.

"I think that later down the line there needs to be some kind of public inquiry into what has happened."

Prof Richardson's resignation came just days after the second email warned of the worsening economic outlook.

He will be succeeded in the interim by provost and deputy vice-chancellor Christine Bovis-Cnossen.

In a statement, Prof Richardson said: "UEA and the whole higher education sector are now facing a variety of further challenges, but genuine opportunity lies ahead.

"I have been conscious of the need for a new vision for UEA since we began to emerge from Covid in 2021 and have deliberated whether I am the person to lead that vision or whether a new vision needs a new leader.

"After 15 years on the executive team and nine as vice-chancellor, I have concluded now that the time has come for me to step away so that UEA can develop a long-term vision to take it forward beyond its 60th anniversary with new leadership."

In the email update sent last week, Prof Bovis-Cnossen wrote: "As we have already outlined, we don't believe we can make all the savings without compulsory redundancies.

"I am truly sorry about this. I want to stress again, this would be our last resort after all other options have been considered."

A UEA spokesperson said: "We completely recognise that this a difficult and concerning time for our staff.

"It is important that we keep our staff informed and this latest update gives additional context and timelines.

"Detailed business plans and potential impacts for every area of our university are being worked through.

"We have already stressed that compulsory redundancies would be our last resort after all other options have been considered.

"No decisions have been made at this point as to where those reductions in roles may be and it's important that we take time over such an important decision."