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, was awarded an Honorary Professorship by Jilin University in 2007, in 2010 was made an Honorary DEd of the University of the West of England and an Honorary Fellow of Aberystwyth University, 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 has 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 the 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 and Chair of UUK's International Strategic Advisory Board; 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 2009-2011.
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.
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 will be stepping down in mid-2018. He was previously Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council. 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 British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS), Chair of Edinburgh College, and a Board member of UK Research and Innovation. He chaired the Welsh Assembly Government of the Higher Education Review for Wales reporting in 2016, 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.
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: Finance 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), a Director of NCC Group plc (global cyber security), 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.
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, The Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2013, The Queen’s Anniversary Prize 2015, and the Daily Telegraph 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. He’s a Deputy Lieutenant for West Yorkshire, and in 2015 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, 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.
College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London
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 Chair of UCAS Media Limited.
Committee membership: Nominations Committee
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.
Committee membership: Audit 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.
He is Vice President of Universities UK, a Board member of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, the Edge Foundation, and a Fulbright Commissioner. In 2013, he became Chair of Universities Wales; the body which represents the interests of higher education providers in Wales.
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 the terms of reference of the Board.
2018 Board meetings
- 28 February
- 26 April
- 4 July
- 20 September
- 6 December