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Advisory Board

Comprised of university vice-chancellors, thought-leaders, policy experts and politicians, the role of the Advisory Board is to augment the knowledge, understanding and strategic thinking of the Trustee Board so that the UPP Foundation’s support is focused on areas that are central to the future success of the higher education sector.

Rt Hon David Laws, Chair of the UPP Foundation Advisory Board

David Laws is Executive Chairman of the Education Policy Institute, a think tank that focuses on education research. Previously he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Schools Minister and Cabinet Office Minister in the 2010-2015 Coalition Government. As Schools Minister from 2012 to 2015 he was responsible for policy areas including all capital and revenue funding, the Pupil Premium, accountability and policy on teachers and leadership.

As Lib Dem Education Spokesman from 2007 to 2010, he led the work in developing a Pupil Premium. Mr Laws graduated from King’s College, Cambridge, with a double first class honours degree in economics and went to work at J.P. Morgan and Barclays de Zoete Wedd. He left the city to work in politics and was elected MP for Yeovil in 2001 and served in this capacity until 2015.

Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Leicester

Professor Paul Boyle became the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester in October 2014. Professor Boyle previously held the offices of Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council and President of Science Europe. He is now the Chair of the Scottish Science Advisory Council, Scotland’s highest level science advisory body, an ‘impact champion’ for the United Nations HeForShe global solidarity movement for gender equality, a Council Member and Trustee of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

Professor Simon Gaskell, President and Principal, Queen Mary University of London

Professor Simon Gaskell was appointed as Principal of Queen Mary University of London in October 2009. He previously worked at the University of Wales College of Medicine as the Head of the Mass Spectrometry Unit before becoming a Professor of Experimental Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

He has also worked as the Associate Vice President for Research at the University of Manchester and is currently the Treasurer for Universities UK.

Professor Sir David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor, University of Nottingham

Professor Sir David Greenaway became the Vice-Chancellor at the University of Nottingham in 2008. He was a member of the Government’s Asia Task Force 2004-2014 and a member of its Higher Education Task Force. He is the Chair of both the Russell Group of Universities and of CASE Europe and is a member of the National Centre for Universities and Business Leadership Council.

Sir David received a Knighthood for services to higher education in the 2014 Birthday Honours list.


Libby Hackett, Senior Partner, Perrett Laver

Libby Hackett is a Senior Partner at Perrett Laver, having joined from University Alliance in 2014. Ms. Hackett led University Alliance as their Chief Executive for five years before moving to the Perrett Laver Global Higher Education team. She has also previously worked as the Director of Research for The Russell Group and as a Special Advisor to the House of Commons Education Select Committee.

Lucy Heller, Chief Executive, Ark

Lucy Heller became the Chief Executive of Ark in 2012, a children’s charity that runs education and health programmes in the UK, Africa and India. She joined Ark in 2004 from TSL Education, which published TES magazine, where she was joint Managing Director.

Her previous roles include General Manager of The Observer and Executive Chairman at Verso, a trade and academic publisher.

Nick Hillman, Director, HEPI

Nick Hillman has been the Director of HEPI since January 2014. Previously he worked for the Rt Hon David Willetts MP, the then Minister for Universities and Science, as Chief of Staff from 2007 until the end of 2013 and also as Special Adviser in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

His recent writings include an article on the fifty-year history of student loans for Contemporary British History and a paper comparing access to selective secondary schools and selective universities for the Higher Education Review.

Julia Margo, CEO, The Family and Childcare Trust

Julia Margo was appointed as CEO of the Family and Childcare Trust in July 2015, joining from Which? where she was the Director of Consumer Insight. Ms. Margo has over 10 years experience in think tanks as the Deputy and Acting Director of Demos and Associate Director and Head of Strategic Research at the Institute for Public Policy Research.

She was also Editor of Public Policy Research (now known as Juncture), the leading policy and politics journal published by Wiley-Blackwell.

Emran Mian, Director, Social Market Foundation

Emran Mian joined the Social Market Foundation as Director in 2013 from a senior position in the Cabinet Office. His previous roles include Director of Strategy at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Secretary to the Browne Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance.

Mr. Mian is also a published author of two books, Send in the Idiots and The Banker’s Daughter.

John O'Leary, Journalist & Education Consultant

John O’Leary is a journalist and education consultant who works for a variety of newspapers and magazines, universities and national organisations. He edits The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide. Previously he was Editor of The Times Higher Education Supplement from 2002 to 2007, and Education Editor of The Times from 1991 to 2002.

Mr. O’Leary is a member of the Higher Education Commission and has been writing about higher education for more than 30 years. In 2011 he won the Ted Wragg Award for Sustained Contribution to Education Journalism.

Professor Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor, Nottingham Trent University

Professor Edward Peck joined Nottingham Trent University as Vice-Chancellor in August 2014. Prior to this he held a number of positions at the University of Birmingham, initially as Director of the Health Services Management Centre and then as Head of the School of Public Policy. Latterly he was Head of the College of Social Sciences.

Professor Peck is currently Treasurer of University Alliance and sits on the Creative Quarter Board in Nottingham and the Board of UCEA.

Jonathan Simons, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Varkey Foundation

Jonathan Simons is the Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Varkey Foundation, a charity that seeks to address global teaching capacity and seed excellence in the next generation of educators. He was previously Head of the Education Unit at Policy Exchange, directing research on all aspects of education. Before that he was Head of Open Public Services in the Cabinet Office and Head of Education in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit in the administrations of both Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

Mr. Simons is the Chair of Governors and Co-Founder of Greenwich Free School, and a Trustee of REAch4 Multi Academy Trust.

Professor Mark E. Smith, Vice-Chancellor, Lancaster University

Professor Mark E. Smith became Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University in 2012 having previously served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Warwick University. He is the current Chair of the Graduate Prospects and HECSU boards, as well as being a member of the HESA Board, the Universities UK Research Policy, Funding Policy and Long Term Strategy Network groups.

In June 2015, Professor Smith became Chair of the Financial Sustainability Strategy Group for Higher Education

Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Exeter

Sir Steve joined the University of Exeter as Vice-Chancellor in 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.

He has written or edited 17 books, published well over 100 academic papers and is currently Chair of the UCAS Board and a Board Member of the Russell Group

Wes Streeting, MP

Wes Streeting is the Labour MP for Ilford North, having been elected at the 2015 General Election. He has worked outside politics as a senior manager and chief executive for a number of voluntary and private sector organisations working to improve access to education: from an anti-bullying campaign working with over 10,000 schools across Britain to running a national charity that supports people from under-privileged backgrounds to gain entrance to university.

Professor Mary Stuart, Vice-Chancellor, University of Lincoln

Professor Mary Stuart joined the University of Lincoln as Vice-Chancellor in November 2009. Professor Stuart is a Board Member for the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), a member of HEFCE’s Leadership and Management Strategic Committee and the Higher Education Public Information Steering Group. She is also Chair of Action on Access Advisory Committee, Deputy Chair of the University Alliance and a member of the Equality Challenge Unit.


The UPP Foundation is a grant-making body and a public policy platform, working to encourage collaboration and innovation within the higher education sector. If you would like to contribute to this discourse or find out more about the UPP Foundation please get in touch.