The majority of our Trustees are from higher education backgrounds, including five heads of providers of higher education, one head of a further and higher education provider, and one secondary education provider head.
Our Chair is a Vice Chancellor nominated by UUK (in consultation with GuildHE).
Our Board is 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, experience and expertise.
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. He was previously Senior Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs) and Professor of International Politics at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, as well as Head of the Department of International Politics, and Director of the Centre for Public Choice Studies at the University of East Anglia.
Sir Steve is a graduate of the University of Southampton, and holds a BSc in Politics and International Studies, an MSc in International Studies, and a PhD in International Relations. He was made an Honorary DSc of the University of Southampton in 2004, awarded an Honorary Professorship by Jilin University in 2007, made an Honorary DEd of the University of the West of England and an Honorary Fellow of Aberystwyth University in 2010, and in 2011, he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff. In 2009, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and in 2012, he was awarded the University of South Florida's Global Leadership Award.
He has written or edited 17 books, published well over 100 academic papers, and given over 170 academic presentations in 22 countries. In 2001, he became only the second UK academic to be elected President of the International Studies Association in the USA. In 2000, he was elected Academician of the Academy of the Learned Societies in the Social Sciences, and in 1999, was the recipient of the Susan Strange Award of the International Studies Association for the person who has most challenged received wisdom in the profession.
Sir Steve is currently Chair of the UCAS Board, Board member of the Russell Group, Chair of UUK's International Policy Network, Chair of UUK's International Strategic Advisory Board, Member of the UUK Board, Board member of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, and a Trustee of the Education and Employers Task Force.
He was President of Universities UK (UUK) – the representative body for the executive heads of UK universities – from 2009 to 2011.
From June 2007 until May 2010, he led for higher education on the Prime Minister’s National Council of Excellence in Education, which provided advice to government about strategy and measures to achieve world-class education performance for all children and young people. He was also a member of the Institute for Public Policy Research's Commission on the Future of Higher Education.
Sir Steve was knighted in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours for services to higher education, locally and nationally.
Royal Holloway, University of London
Outline of Dr Ashton's career
David Ashton is Deputy Principal at Royal Holloway, University of London. He was previously Chief Operating Officer and Secretary to Council at Royal Holloway. Earlier in his career, David was Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar at the University of Surrey, and later Vice-Provost at the University of Surrey. He was Deputy Director of Student Services and Administration at Kingston University, London, and later Registrar. Before Kingston, he was Sub-Dean of the Faculties of Economic & Social Sciences and of Arts & Humanities at the University of Reading. He has also worked at the University of Warwick and in Japan.
Among his non-executive roles, David was a former Vice-Chair of Council of West Thames College of Further and Higher Education, London, a member of Council of Guildford Cathedral, a governor of Guildford High School, and a governor of Guildford School of Acting Conservatoire.
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: Chair of the Audit Committee
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman in the UK
Rob Behrens is Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman in the UK, Visiting Professor at UCL Institute of Education, and Chair of the European Network of Ombudsmen in Higher Education. He was Independent Adjudicator and Chief Executive of OIAHE, the ombudsman service for higher education students in England and Wales, for two terms between 2008 and 2016. Rob was a member of the Bar Standards Board between 2012 and 2017, and Complaints Commissioner to the Bar Standards Board between 2006 and 2008.
Previously, Rob worked in higher education and then had a civil service career, including working on the South African transformation from apartheid, other international development, and three years as Secretary to the Committee on Standards in Public Life, the body giving independent advice on standards to the Prime Minister. Rob was educated at a state school in Manchester, and at Nottingham and Exeter universities. He was made a CBE for ‘services to higher education’ in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List.
Committee membership: Audit Committee
Skinners' Kent Academy
Outline of Sian Carr's career
Sian Carr has a long and distinguished career in education, and currently works to a local, national, and international education agenda. Passionate about making a difference to the lives of young people, Sian believes that strong, positive, and focused leadership at all levels in a school is essential to its success and improvement. In addition to being Executive Principal, Mrs Sian Carr is a member of the International Baccalaureate Board of Governors, and is also Past President of The Association of Schools and College Leaders (ASCL), a post which she will hold for a year.
Prior to 2009 when Sian Carr first became involved with The Skinners’ Kent Academy, she was Operational Director, Stakeholders & Networks, at the National College for School Leadership in Nottingham. Her role involved developing a leadership network for all school leaders which enabled the voice of practice to be heard and shared. Before this, she was Director of the Eastern Leadership Centre based in Cambridge, a charitable partnership company which promoted excellent leadership development opportunities across the East of England. She had previously been Head of the Sandon School in Chelmsford in Essex, for seven years. Sandon School was an 11-18 mixed comprehensive. Sian’s earlier teaching career was spent in four London schools. Sian is also a Governor at Sevenoaks School.
Committee Membership: Audit Committee
University of Winchester
Outline of Professor Joy Carter's career
Professor Joy Carter is Vice-Chancellor of The University of Winchester. She is an academic with research based in geochemistry and health, and was a former president of the international society in her field.
Professor Carter is the current Chair of GuildHE, and for many years served on the Universities UK Board. Professor Carter currently chairs three further national bodies, The Church of England’s Steering Group for their Foundation for Educational Leadership, Supporting Professionalism in Admissions Steering Group (SPA), and the governing body of a national sport (England Squash). She is a former Chair of the Cathedrals Group of Universities. As an ambassador for higher level skills and vocational learning, she chaired the University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC) for six years. Professor Carter is a Board member of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA).
In 2013, Professor Carter was invited to become a representative of the Lord Lieutenant, and is now a Deputy Lieutenant for the county of Hampshire. Professor Carter is passionate about all aspects of equality and has particular interests in widening participation, sustainability, and animal welfare.
Non-executive Chairman/Director of several public and private companies
Thomas is a director of a number of public and private companies, including Chairman of Propel London Ltd (digital new media recruitment), and a Director of Kings Arms Yard VCT plc (venture capital trust). Until March 2018, Thomas was Chairman of First Utility (independent residential gas and electricity provider) and until January 2018, Thomas worked with the University of Surrey, having been Treasurer for four years until 2016, and a member of Council for nine years, also until 2016.
Thomas has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Durham University. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, an Associate of The Association of Corporate Treasurers, and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. In 2015 he was awarded an honorary Doctor from the University of Surrey.
Having trained as an accountant with Price Waterhouse, he worked in corporate finance with Kleinwort Benson, and with the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development. Thomas was Chief Financial Officer for Robert Walters plc, for First Telecom plc, and then for Symbian plc. Symbian was the creator/developer of the first mass market smartphone operating system, being a joint venture between the major mobile phone handset manufacturers. Whilst at Symbian, Thomas led the software engineering development, and then the sale of Symbian to Nokia Oyj in 2008.
City & Islington College
Outline of Andy Forbes' career
Andy Forbes is Principal of City & Islington College, having been Principal of the College of Haringey, Enfield, and North East London, and before that, of Hertford Regional College.
Previously, he was Vice Principal at Blackpool and the Fylde College, and before that, he was Director of Widening Participation at The Oldham College. He began his career as a secondary school teacher of English and drama, before making the transition to further education by joining Manchester College.
He has served as a school governor, Chair of a housing association, Chair of Oldham Race Equality Partnership, and specialist adviser to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Social Cohesion. His work with Oldham Housing Department won a National Training Award in 1996. He served for seven years as a member of the OCR Examinations Board Policy Committee, and more recently, has been a Trustee of UCAS. He is now Chair of UCAS Media Limited.
Andy has a degree in English, an MA from Cambridge University, and a PGCE and Diploma in Management Sciences from the University of Manchester.
Committee membership: Nominations Committee
Professor Sally Mapstone
Principal and Vice-Chancellor
University of St Andrews
Sally Mapstone is Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews. The core values of her principalship are excellence, inclusiveness, and fairness.
Before taking up the role of Principal, her academic career was spent at the University of Oxford, where she read English Language and Literature, gained her doctorate on Older Scots literature, and became Professor of Older Scots Literature in the Faculty of English. She is an Emeritus Fellow of St Hilda’s College, Oxford, and an Honorary Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, and St Cross College, Oxford.
At Oxford, she also served as Junior Proctor (2006 – 7), Chair of the English Faculty Board, (2007 – 10), Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Personnel and Equality (2009 – 11), and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education (2011 – 6).
Her research deals with literature in Scots and in Latin before 1707, with political literature, and with book history. She is Honorary President of the Scottish Text Society, and President of the Saltire Society.
Professor Mapstone is a member of the board of Universities UK, a member of the Higher Education Policy Institute Advisory Board, and Chair of the International Advisory Group for the University of Helsinki.
Professor Edward Peck
Nottingham Trent University
Professor Edward Peck joined Nottingham Trent University as Vice-Chancellor in August 2014. The university educates around approximately 32,000 students, and employs 4,500 staff across four campuses. Prior to this, he worked at the University of Birmingham as Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Social Sciences.
His early career was as a manager in the UK National Health Service, and his academic interests encompass public policy and organisational leadership.
Edward has been a Non-Executive Director for an NHS Foundation Trust, and Chair of a Children’s Trust. He is currently on the boards of the University and Colleges Employer’s Association, and the Midlands Engine. He is a member of the Independent Panel, established by Government to advise on the reform of post-18 fees and funding.
Chief Information and Technology Officer, the International Olympic Committee
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 Year’s Honours List 2013.
After two and a half years as Director of IT at the University of Manchester – driving significant structural change and IT strategy development – Gerry was active as an independent Strategic IT Adviser for clients in both the private and public sector.
More recently, Gerry has taken up the role of Chief Information and Technology Officer for the International Olympic Committee.
President and Vice-Chancellor
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.
Professor Riordan is a Board member of Advance HE (the new sector agency established in 2018), the Edge Foundation, UCAS, and The Conversation (UK). He is a Fulbright Commissioner and a member of Council of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
Professor Colin Riordan has a regional voice for Wales, on the UCAS Board of Trustees.
Committee membership: Remuneration Committee
York St John University
Outline of Professor Karen Stanton’s career
Professor Karen Stanton joined York St John University as Vice Chancellor in September 2015. Prior to her appointment, she was Deputy Vice Chancellor at Glasgow Caledonian University. She has also held senior positions at King’s College London and at the universities of Nottingham, Birmingham, and Sheffield Hallam. Before her roles within higher education, Professor Stanton worked as a researcher for the Home Office and at the BBC.
Professor Stanton is currently Vice Chair of the Cathedrals Group and a member of the GuildHE Executive. She was previously a Director on the Jisc Advance Board and on the National Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience. She is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Arts and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. Professor Stanton is an Ambassador for the Uprising Charity – aimed at developing the leadership skills of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds – and for the Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award, which aims to encourage young people to develop relevant Digital and Enterprise Skills.
Karen is also a Director of UCAS Media Limited.
View and download Matters reserved for the UCAS Board (133.93 KB).
2019 Board meetings
- 7 March
- 30 April
- 3 July
- 19 September
- 5 December