Board of Trustees

We are governed by our Board of Trustees, who have been independently selected and appointed based on their specific skills, experience and expertise including Information Technology, operational delivery, higher education admissions, marketing and communications, finance and audit.

The majority of our Trustees are from higher education backgrounds, including five heads of institutions of higher education, one head of a further and higher education institution, and one secondary education institution 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.

Professor Sir Steve Smith

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. Previously, he was 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 is currently Chair of the UCAS Board; Board member of the Russell Group; Chair of the International Policy Network of Universities UK; Member of the UUK Board; Member of the Times Higher Education (THE) Editorial Board; Board member of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership; 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.

Sir Steve holds a BSc, an MSc, and a PHD in International Relations from the University of Southampton. He has served as President of the world academic body in his field from 2003 to 2004.

Committee membership: Remuneration Committee Chair, Nominations Committee Chair

Professor Sir Ian Diamond FBA FRSE FAcSS – Deputy Chair of the UCAS Board of Trustees

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.

Sir Ian is Chair of the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, Chair of British Universities and Colleges Sport, and Chair – for the Welsh Assembly Government – of the Higher Education Review for Wales. He is also Chair of the Universities UK Research Policy Network Committee and Chair of the Universities UK Group on Efficiency. He is a Trustee of the Iona Cathedral Trust, a member of the Scottish Science Advisory Council, and a member of the British Council Scotland Advisory Committee. Sir Ian was elected to the UK Academy of Social Science 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: Audit Committee ChairNominations CommitteeRemuneration Committee 

Dr David Ashton

Chief Operating Officer and Secretary to Council
Royal Holloway, University of London

Outline of Dr Ashton's career

David Ashton is Chief Operating Officer and Secretary to Council at Royal Holloway, University of London. He was previously Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar and later Vice-Provost at the University of Surrey. Earlier in his career, David was Deputy Director of Student Services and Administration and later Registrar at Kingston University, London. Before that 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.

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

University of Liverpool

Outline of Professor Beer's career

Professor Janet Beer became Vice Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University in 2007; from February 2015, she took the role of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Liverpool.

Janet is Chair of the Higher Education Public Information Steering Group, which has oversight of the National Student Survey. She is the Chair of the Board 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 Vice President of UUK and in 2011 she was elected as a Visiting Fellow at Nuffield College. Janet is also a Board member of the British Council.

Janet has an established record of research in late nineteenth and early twentieth century American literature and culture 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: Nominations Committee

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 Universities UK. 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 Bob Cryan CBE DL FREng CEng FIET

Professor Bob Cryan

Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive
University of Huddersfield

Outline of Professor Bob Cryan's career

Professor Bob Cryan CBE has been Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Huddersfield since January 2007. It is an institution of 22,000 students from 120 countries, the recipient of the Times Higher Education University of the Year Award 2013/14 and the Daily Telegraph new University of the Year Award 2015. He holds six degrees including two first class honours (engineering, mathematics), an MBA and two doctorates.  He is the recipient of the inaugural Guardian Inspiring University Leader of the Year Award 2013 and the Daily Telegraph Educate North Leadership Award 2015. Bob was awarded a CBE in the Queen's 2014 Birthday honours for services to higher education and later that year invited to become a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute.  In 2015 he was one of the 50 world-leading engineers elected to Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Bob is a Chartered Engineer and Vice-President of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the largest engineering professional body in Europe with 160,000 members.  His subject area is Telecommunications and he has co-authored over 200 journal and conference publications.  He is interested in entrepreneurship and sits on the Board of the Peter Jones Foundation.  He is also on the Board of iDEA, this is an initiative that is the brainchild of The Duke of York and aims to engage one million young people in digital enterprise.  Regionally, Bob sits on the Board of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership.

Committee membership: Finance Committee

Andy Forbes

Andy Forbes

College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London

Outline of Andy Forbes' career

Andy Forbes started in 2015 as Principal of the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, having served for six years as Principal 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 Board Member of Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Chair of the LEP Skills & Employment Programme Board.

Andy has a Degree in English and an MA from Cambridge University and a PGCE and Diploma in Management Sciences from Manchester University.

Andy is also Interim Chair of UCAS Media Limited.

Committee membership: Nominations 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

Strategic IT Adviser

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.

After two and a half years as Director of IT at the University of Manchester – driving significant structural change and IT strategy development – Gerry is now active as an independent Strategic IT Adviser for clients in both the private and public sector.

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 Vice President of Universities UK, a Board member of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, the Edge Foundation and the Equality Challenge Unit, and a Fulbright Commissioner. In 2013, he became Chair of Universities Wales; the body which represents the interests of higher education institutions in Wales. He is also a member of the Cardiff Capital Region Board and sits on the Review of Higher Education & Student Finance in Wales. As Chair of the UK Higher Education International Unit, he is active in promoting and advancing the role of UK universities abroad. He is a member of the International Education Council, sponsored by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skils.

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.

View and download the PDF icon terms of reference of the Board.

Key dates

2016 Board meetings

  • 26 February
  • 27 April
  • 5 July
  • 22 September
  • 1 December