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, BSc MSc PhD (Soton) FAcSS

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.

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 British Universities and Colleges Sport, Chair of the Universities UK Research Policy Network Committee, Chair of the Universities UK Group on Efficiency. He stepped down as Chair for the Welsh Assembly Government of the Higher Education Review for Wales in  2016. 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.

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 took up post as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool in February 2015, having formerly been Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University.

Professor Beer is Chair of the Board of the Equality Challenge Unit. She is currently Vice-President of UUK, England and Northern Ireland and has recently been elected President with effect from August 2017. She is also a Board member of UCAS and the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), and a Trustee of the British Council.

Professor Beer chairs the Liverpool Knowledge Quarter Board and is a member of the Liverpool City Region Innovation Board and the Liverpool Science Park Board.

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

Committee membership: Nominations Committee

Rob Behrens

Visiting Professor at UCL Institute of Education
Member of the Bar Standards Board, and Chair of the European Network of Ombudsmen in Higher Education

Rob Behrens is Visiting Professor at UCL Institute of Education, a member of the Bar Standards Board, 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, for two terms between 2008 and 2016. Before then Rob was 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 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. 

Professor Joy Carter BSc PhD CGeol FGS

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. 

Committee membership: Finance Committee

Professor Bob Cryan CBE DL FREng CEng FIET

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.

Committee membership: Finance Committee

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 Chair of UCAS Media Limited.

Committee membership: Nominations Committee

Gerry Pennell OBE

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

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 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

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 terms of reference of the Board.

Key dates

2017 Board meetings

  • 28 February
  • 26 April
  • 4 July
  • 21 September
  • 7 December