Fury at golden handshake.
Ms Jenny Shackleton stood down from her pounds 64,000 post as principal and chief executive of Wirral Metropolitan College, on Merseyside, at the end of March.
Less than two weeks ago college chiefs announced plans for 170 redundancies in an attempt to balance the books and help meet accrued debts of pounds 12 million.
The announcement came as a Further Education Funding Council inspection report published last week criticised major failings in the college's management, governance, quality systems, student support and general resources.
The governing body and management had "failed to ensure" effective management and solvency of the college, the report said.
Ms Sue Doleman, of the lecturers' union Natfhe, said: "We want to know why someone who made this kind of financial mess can walk away with a golden handshake when our members are facing redundancy."
College governors chairman Mr John Conlan said: "It is very simple. The whole matter of Jenny Shackleton's retirement was settled and stamped off before the present board was put in position."