Board of Trustees

The UCAS Board of Trustees comprises 12 trustees who have been independently selected and appointed based on their specific skills, experiences and expertise including Information Technology, operational delivery, higher education admissions, marketing and communications, and finance and audit.

The majority of the Board are from a higher education background, including five heads of institutions of higher education; one head of a further and higher education institution; one secondary education institution head; and up to four additional trustees, who have also been independently selected and appointed based on their specific skills and expertise. This Board is chaired by a Vice-Chancellor nominated by UUK (in consultation with GuildHE).

The Board is also currently supported by four Committees Audit, Finance, Nominations and Remuneration – comprising a majority of Trustees and also Co-opted Committee members, who have also been selected and appointed based on their specific skills and expertise.


Professor Sir Steve Smith BSc MSc PhD – Chair of the UCAS Board of Trustees

Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive
University of Exeter

Outline of Professor Sir Steve Smith's career

Professor Sir Steve Smith has been Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Exeter since October 2002. In August 2009, he was elected President of Universities UK (UUK) for two years, representing all UK universities. His previous posts include: Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs) and Head of the Department of International Politics at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth; and Director of the Centre for Public Choice Studies at the University of East Anglia. Sir Steve holds a BSc, an MSc and a PhD in International Relations from the University of Southampton. He served as President of the world academic body in his field from 2003 to 2004.

Committee membership: Remuneration Committee Chair, Nominations Committee Chair 

Professor David Fleming MBA FRICS – Deputy Chair of the UCAS Board of Trustees

York St John University

Outline of Professor Fleming's career

David Fleming has worked in UK Higher Education since 1991. Before that he was engaged in professional practice in the commercial sector working in Australia and South East Asia. David has degrees in Urban Land Economics, Facilities Management and an MBA. His doctoral research was in the psycho-social impact of the workplace environment. He is a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

David has significant experience of strategic leadership his areas of particular specialism include enhancing the student experience, learning and teaching, international collaboration, research, third-stream initiatives, and widening access and participation.

Committee membership: Nominations Committee, Remuneration Committee

Dr David Ashton

Vice-President and Registrar
University of Surrey

Outline of Dr Ashton's career

David Ashton is Vice-President, Administration and Registrar at the University of Surrey, which he joined in February 2011. Previously, he was Academic Registrar and before that Deputy Director of Student Services and Administration at Kingston University, London. Earlier in his career, he worked at the University of Warwick and the University of Reading, where he held a number of posts including those of Sub-Dean of the Faculties of Economic & Social Sciences and of Arts & Humanities. He has also worked in Japan.

David is Vice-Chair of Corporation of West Thames College of further and higher education, London; a governor at Guildford High School – a member School of the United Churches Schools Trust; a member of the Association of Heads of University Administration and a Fellow of the RSA.

David has Bachelor and Master’s degrees in History from Lancaster University, a doctorate in Modern History from the University of Oxford and an MBA in Higher Education Management from the Institute of Education, University of London.

Committee membership: Audit Committee

Professor Janet Beer

Oxford Brookes University

Outline of Professor Beer's career

Professor Janet Beer took up her role as Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University in 2007. Her previous career has included periods in local government as well as university teaching and administration.

Janet is Chair of the Supporting Professionalism in Admissions (SPA) Steering Group and of the Higher Education Public Information Steering Group which has oversight of the National Student Survey. Alongside the President of the NUS, she co-chairs the Student Charter Group. In 2011 she became co-chair of the Equality Challenge Unit and was Chair of the University Alliance from 2009 until July 2012. She sits on the Advisory Board of the Higher Education Policy Institute, is a Board member of UUK and is a member of the Financial Sustainability Strategy Group. In 2011 she was elected as a Visiting Fellow at Nuffield College.

Janet has an established record of research in late nineteenth and early twentieth century American literature and culture and contemporary Canadian women's writing. She has published widely in these fields and recently completed a study of the late writing of Edith Wharton.

Janet has a regional voice for Northern Ireland, on the UCAS Board of Trustees.

Committee membership: Audit Committee Chair

Professor Joy Carter BSc PhD CGeol FGS

University of Winchester

Outline of Professor Joy Carter’s career

Professor Carter BSc, PhD, CGeol, FGS has been Vice-Chancellor of The University of Winchester since 2006 and was previously Pro-Vice-Chancellor Academic at the University of Glamorgan. Her research area is Environmental Geochemistry and Health, and she was until recently International President of the Society of Environmental Geochemistry and Health. Her research interests include pesticides, trace metals and micro-anionic nutrients and she has published over one hundred papers and several books in the field.

Professor Carter is Chair of the Cathedrals Group of Universities, Vice-Chair of GuildHE and a Director of UniversitiesUK. Other national roles include Chair of the University Vocational Awards Council, a member of the Ministerial Advisory Group on FE and Skills and a member of the Associate Parliamentary Skills Group. Her national committee work includes the board of Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) the Hefce Leadership, Governance and Management Strategic Advisory Committee, the Supporting Professionalism in Admissions Steering group and the Joint Advisory Council for the Cathedrals Group of Universities and Colleges.

Professor Carter is a member of the Educational Board of the Times Higher and she is also an Honorary Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.

Committee membership: Finance Committee

Professor Sir Ian Diamond FBA FRSEAcSS

Principal and Vice-Chancellor
University of Aberdeen

Outline of Professor Sir Ian Diamond's career

Professor Sir Ian Diamond is Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, an appointment he has held since 1 April 2010. He was previously Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). He was also Chair of the Research Councils UK Executive Group (2004-2009) the umbrella body that represents all seven UK Research Councils. Before joining the ESRC, Sir Ian was Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Southampton, where he had been for most of his career.

In his research career, Sir Ian's work crossed many disciplinary boundaries, most notably working in the area of population but also in health, both in the developed and less developed world, in environmental noise and with local authorities. His research has involved collaboration with many government departments including the Office for National Statistics, the Department for International Development, the Department of Transport and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Sir Ian is Chair of the Lloyds TSB Foundation for England and Wales and a Trustee of the World Wildlife Fund UK and the Iona Cathedral Trust. He is Chairman of the Universities UK Research Policy Network Committee, Chair of the Universities UK Group on Efficiency and a member of the Scottish Science Advisory Council, the Council of CBI Scotland and the British Council Scotland Advisory Committee. Sir Ian was elected to the UK Academy of Social Sciences in 1999, is a Fellow of the British Academy (2005), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2009) and holds honorary degrees from the universities of Cardiff and Glasgow. Sir Ian was Knighted in the 2013 New Year's Honours.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond has a regional voice for Scotland, on the UCAS Board of Trustees.

Committee membership: Nominations Committee

Terry Grote OBE

Outline of Terry Grote's career

Terry spent 30 years in senior roles within the Media industry, the last 12 years as Managing Director of The Independent and Independent on Sunday national newspapers. He was awarded an OBE in 2009 for Service to the Publishing Industry.

Terry is the Chair of UCAS Media Limited.

Committee membership: Finance Committee

Mrs Caragh Merrick MA FCA FRSA

Formerly a senior audit partner

Outline of Mrs Merrick's career

Caragh Merrick was a senior audit partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers from 1990 to 2002, during which time she also fulfilled a number of practice leadership roles, including membership of the UK Assurance Board with specific responsibility for HR strategy development and implementation. On retiring from PwC, she worked with Chairmen and Chief Executives, principally in the public sector, to develop effective board leadership and corporate governance. Caragh is an experienced non-executive director and audit committee chairman in the arts and higher education sectors.

Committee membership: Finance Committee Chair; Remuneration Committee

Gerry Pennell OBE

Director of IT
University of Manchester

Outline of Gerry Pennell’s career

A graduate in Mathematics from the University of Manchester, Gerry’s career started in the development of mathematical models and real-time software for applications in anti-submarine warfare, gun and rocket artillery and for the Police.

He then spent seven years with Barclays Bank, particularly specialising in the planning and project management of electronic banking systems for global and corporate clients.

The next period in Gerry’s career was as a management consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers where  as well as delivering IS effectiveness and strategy studies for a number of organisations he also established a track record in troubleshooting and delivering large time-critical programmes and projects (particularly several M&A programmes in a quickly consolidating financial services sector).

He then took the role as Director of Technology for the 17th Commonwealth Games held in Manchester in 2002. This role required the establishment of the technology department, the selection of key suppliers and sponsors and direction of the delivery of the IT and telecommunications for the Games.

After the Games, and prior to joining LOCOG, Gerry was CIO for the Cooperative Financial Services and the Cooperative Group – a £9.5bn turnover group of businesses covering banking, insurance, retail etc. As well as the re-engineering of the internet bank smile and other major implementations, Gerry led an extensive modernisation programme, including the out-sourcing and off-shoring of significant elements of IT.

In November 2008, Gerry joined LOCOG as CIO responsible for the management and delivery of the very substantial technology programme required to stage the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London. Gerry was appointed a Member of the Olympic Order – the IOC's highest honour – in August 2012. Gerry was also honoured with the award of an OBE in the Queen's New Years Honours List 2013.

Gerry has recently taken up his appointment as Director of IT at the University of Manchester and he is looking forward to enabling the delivery of its ambitious 2020 Vision.

Committee membership: Audit Committee

Professor Colin Riordan

President and Vice-Chancellor
Cardiff University

Outline of Professor Riordan's career

Professor Colin Riordan was appointed as President and Vice-Chancellor at Cardiff University on 1 September 2012. Previously he was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex, a former Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Provost of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Newcastle University; and he taught at the then University of Wales, Swansea, and Julius-Maximilians Universität-Würzburg in Germany.

He is a Board member of Universities UK, the Edge Foundation, NARIC, the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and the Equality Challenge Unit. As Chair of the International and European Policy Network of Universities UK, and Chair of the International Unit, he is active in promoting and advancing the role of UK universities abroad.

Professor Colin Riordan has a regional voice for Wales, on the UCAS Board of Trustees.

Committee membership: Remuneration Committee

Professor Toby Salt

Chief Executive
Ormiston Academies Trust

Outline of Professor Salt's career

Professor Toby Salt, B.Ed (Hons), M.Ed (Dist) is the Chief Executive of Ormiston Academies Trust and Ormiston Education, a charity and incorporated company formed in 2008 to manage academies sponsored by Ormiston Trust. To date, the Trust sponsors 30 academies across England with responsibilities for 25,000 students. Ormiston Trust began sponsoring academies to help remove barriers to learning by creating a network of inspirational and inclusive schools and academies that share the same values, but keep their own individual identity.

Previously Toby was Deputy Chief Executive and Strategic Director for School Leadership Development, and a founding member of the governing council for the National College for School Leadership. He has worked in a variety of leadership roles in education. Before joining the National College he was Executive Head of a federation involving three schools. Formerly he was a senior civil servant for four years as Director at the Department of Education Innovation Unit and was on the first national pilot of NPQH in 1997.

He has led schools to achieve outstanding Ofsted ratings and worked in a variety of challenging contexts.

Toby has been a representative on Government reference groups and provided special advice to ministers. He remains a governor of a Further Education college and a federation of schools. Toby also contributes to, and is on the editorial board of, a range of national and international professional journals and publications.

Toby has been appointed as visiting professor at the University of Wolverhampton for education leadership and is a member of the All Souls Group, Oxford.

Toby is also a director of UCAS Media Limited.

Mrs Michele Sutton OBE

Outline of Mrs Sutton's career

Michele Sutton became Principal and Chief Executive of Bradford College in August 2004. Bradford College caters for 23,000 students, has a £60m budget and is one of the largest further education colleges in the UK. The College is very diverse with large numbers of young people (4,000), adults (14,000) and higher education students (5,000).

For the previous five years she was Principal and Chief Executive of Hopwood Hall College in Rochdale and prior to that was Vice Principal of City College, Manchester and Handsworth College (now City College Birmingham). Michele started lecturing in Business Studies at Handsworth College in 1981 and left 14 years later as Vice Principal. Whilst working in Rochdale she was also a Council Member for the Great Manchester Learning & Skills Council.

Michele joined further education as a lecturer in business studies in 1980 after 11 years in industry including textiles, printing and sports marketing. She is passionate about the value that further education colleges bring both to individuals and to the communities, towns and cities in which they are located, including Birmingham, Manchester and Rochdale.

Michele received her OBE on 10 July 2009 for Services to Further Education and Community Involvement.

Michele is currently President of the Association of Colleges. Michele is director of UCAS Media Limited.

Committee membership: Nominations Committee 

The terms of reference of the Board can be found in the related documents tab.

Key dates

2014 Board meetings

  • 28 February
  • 3 April
  • 6 June
  • 26 September
  • 3 December