Julie Milburn

Julie Milburn

Principal and Chief Executive Officer of the Sparsholt College Group

Julie Milburn has an extensive professional history including over 22 years’ experience in further and higher education.

Julie was previously Vice Principal at Farnborough College of Technology (FCOT), covering both FE and HE with extensive involvement in industry partnerships. Prior to FCOT, Julie was at Newbury College and at East Durham and Houghall College in a variety of teaching and management roles. Whilst at East Durham and Houghall, Julie was based primarily at the Houghall campus, the specialist residential land-based college in County Durham.

Julie has a background in Sports Science and has worked closely with sports based and many other employers and businesses. Julie has extensive professional expertise and experience in the design and delivery of the curriculum for further and higher education and the quality improvement of the same. Julie also has extensive professional expertise of supporting and safeguarding students having been the Designated Safeguarding Lead for Sparsholt and Andover Colleges in her role as Deputy Principal. She currently represents Hampshire FE colleges on the Hampshire Safeguarding Children Partnership main board.

Julie took up her current post as Principal and Chief Executive Officer in August 2020 succeeding Tim Jackson when he retired from his post after 22 years as Principal now representing the College Group on land-based and rural matters. Current posts include:

  • Landex Director: Which represents the interest of land-based colleges and the industries they serve
  • National Land-based College Board member (NLBC): Established to champion skills development for land-based industries, developing a stronger life-long learning culture, resulting in improvements in education, productivity and quality
  • Hampshire Rural Forum Steering Group member: Addressing the issues facing those living and working in rural Hampshire
  • Winchester City Council Carbon Neutrality Group member: Driving change forward to meet the target of achieving carbon neutrality in the district by 2030

Julie is also a Director and the Chair of Andover Town Football Club, wholly owned by Sparsholt College, providing a player pathway from education into local league football.

Suzanne Grant

Suzanne Grant

Deputy Principal and Deputy Chief Executive

Suzanne is Deputy Principal and Deputy CEO for Sparsholt College Group. She has been a member of the senior team for 12 years, heading up Management Information, Information Technology, Admissions, Examinations, Higher Education, Commercial Services, Apprenticeships, Careers and Work Placement Teams. Suzanne has a detailed understanding of meeting skills needs, college funding arrangements and college contractual and compliance provisions. She writes bids and funding applications for the college and colleges throughout the region and provides oversight of regional college delivery programmes. Suzanne’s exceptional bid successes have led to an impressive level of capital investment throughout college estates.

She holds a degree in Sociology and Industrial Relations from Southampton University and a Masters in Industrial Relations from Warwick University.

Suzanne is passionate about the Green Skills agenda and ensuring that student have access to new and evolving technologies and work experience.  She wants Sparsholt College Group students to leave the College and University Centre able to actively compete in and influence the industries that they serve.


Dr. Darren Mernagh

Dr. Darren Mernagh

Vice Principal and Dean of Higher Education

Darren has a degree in molecular biology and a PhD from the University of Portsmouth. After several years working in research, he was appointed as a lecturer in Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences in 2000 and the next 10 years was promoted to Senior and then Principal Lecturer. Between 2010-2012 Darren served the Faculty of Health at the University of Portsmouth as Associate Dean (Academic). In July 2012 he was promoted to the role of Head of Biological Sciences, a post he held until he joined University Centre Sparsholt in September 2022.

Darren has been an external examiner on a number of degree programmes both in the UK and Internationally. He has also been a panel member for the Royal Society of Biology degree accreditations.

Darren is a Fellow of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and in 2022 was granted Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.

Mark Treagust

Mark Treagust

Vice Principal (Curriculum) Sparsholt

Mark has worked in further education for 14 years and is the Vice Principal – Curriculum for Sparsholt College. Mark studied a BA in Sport Development at Chichester University followed by an MA in Sport and Development at Southampton Solent University. He has also received a PGCE in Education from the University of Surrey.

Mark started his career as a Sport Science lecturer, before moving on to become a Programme Manager of Sport and Protective Services and then a Head of Faculty at Farnborough College of Technology. Mark has experience of teaching and curriculum leadership of both FE and HE provision across a range of subject areas. Through Mark’s Sport Development background and research he has a particular interest in social inclusion of minority ethnic groups within Education settings and conducted a study on adolescent Nepali’s in the Rushmoor Borough area, using Sport as a vehicle for social integration.

In addition to his role at the college Mark also works with the FEA as a coach and mentor to Teaching Apprenticeships in a variety of colleges around the South of England.

Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes

Vice Principal (Curriculum), Andover College and Designated Safeguarding Lead

Ben has worked in further education for 15 years, starting his career as a Sport Lecturer after receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sport Studies. He has also received a PCGE in Education from University of Southampton.

Ben started as a lecturer in Sport before moving to be Head of Sport. He worked extensively with a wide range of national exam boards supporting the development of different qualifications within the sport sector. He progressed shortly after that to become Head of Sixth Form, responsible for the A Level curriculum at Andover College. Ben has since taken on a wider role for the Andover curriculum as Vice Principal. He has a passion for supporting teaching, learning and assessment so that students receive an outstanding education that helps them to develop as individuals and progress on to aspirational careers.

Since its inception, the Andover campus has grown significantly both in terms of its size and quality and Ben is committed to ensuring that it is well positioned to serve its community and maximise opportunities that present themselves during the proposed redevelopment of Andover town centre.

Ben is also the Designated Safeguarding Lead and leads the Safeguarding Team who are in place to keep you, and those around you, safe.

Nathan Heslop

Nathan Heslop

Group Director of Finance

Nathan joined us in September 2021 and is responsible for heading up the Finance & Procurement functions for the Sparsholt College Group.

His focus is on ensuring that the College’s resources are appropriately managed, which includes the stewardship of the College’s finances, budgeting and the preparation of the financial statements. Nathan is keen to ensure that the College’s resources are directed as much as possible into enhancing the student experience.

Nathan is Chartered Accountant and a Business Management graduate, having studied at the University of Surrey.  Nathan has over 20 years’ experience of working in senior finance & commercial roles across a broad range of sectors.  As UK Finance Director for Aramark, Nathan worked closely with the college to forge a strategic catering partnership that continues to date.

Nathan is a keen advocate of education at all levels and current serves as Non-Executive Director & Trustee of Partners in Learning Multi Academy Trust.