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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 Chris Skidmore

Chris was the Member of Parliament for Kingswood until he resigned as an MP in early 2024 over the previous Government’s approach to Net Zero. He was elected following the 2010 General Election and served as the Universities Minister on two occasions between 2018 and 2020. He has also previously had Ministerial roles at the Department for Health and Social Care and the Cabinet Office. Prior to becoming a Government Minister he was George Osborne’s PPS for a year between 2015 and 2016 when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. As a backbencher, he now co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary University Group alongside his new role on the Advisory Board at the UPP Foundation.

Before being elected as an MP Skidmore was an education adviser for the Conservatives, working for then-Shadow Education Secretary Michael Gove, and has also served as Director of the Party’s Public Services Improvement Group, run by Stephen Dorrell and Baroness Perry. He is also a historian and published author. His first book, ‘Edward VI: The Lost King’, was released in 2007 and his second, ‘Death and the Virgin: Elizabeth, Dudley and the Mysterious Death of Amy Robsart’, was published in 2010. He has a First Class Honours in Modern History from the University of Oxford.

Professor Paul Boyle, Vice-Chancellor, Swansea University

Paul Boyle was appointed Swansea University’s Vice-Chancellor in 2019. Prior to this he was President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester. Paul previously was appointed Swansea University’s Vice-Chancellor in 2019. Prior to this he was President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester. Paul previously became the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester in October 2014. Paul 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.

Dinah Caine CBE, Chair of Council of Goldsmiths College, University of London

Dinah Caine CBE is Chair of Council of Goldsmiths College, University of London and recently served as a member of the UUP Foundation’s Civic University Commission. She has served on the Creative Industries Council since its inception in 2011 and leads its work on Skills and Education. She was the founding and long-serving CEO of Creative Skillset, the Sector Skills Council and served as its Chair from 2015 to 2017. Dinah was awarded the OBE for her services to the Media Industries in 2002 and was awarded the CBE for her services to the Creative Industries in 2013.

Professor Chris Day, Vice-Chancellor and President University of Newcastle

Professor Chris Day has been the Vice-Chancellor and President at Newcastle University since 2017. Previously a Consultant Hepatologist with an international reputation in medical research, he is a Fellow and former Clinical Vice-President of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He has served on the Council of the Medical Research Council and the Board of UUK. In the 2021 REF exercise Professor Day was Chair of Institutional Environment Pilot Panel for the assessment of the research environment at institution level.

He is also the immediate past Chair of the Office for Strategic Co-ordination of Health Research (OSCHR), and the N8 Group of Research Universities. He has recently been appointed to the Council of the All Party Parliamentary University Group and is a Deputy Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear. Professor Day is currently Chair of the UUK Task Force on the role of universities in economic and social recovery of the UK from the covid pandemic.

Professor Becky Francis, Chief Executive Officer, Education Endowment Foundation

Professor Becky Francis is Chief Executive Officer of the Education Endowment Foundation. She was previously Director of the UCL Institute of Education (IOE), and has held roles including Professor of Education and Social Justice at King’s College London, Director of Education at the RSA and Standing Advisor to the Parliamentary Education Select Committee. Becky has been a judge for the National Pupil Premium Awards and the TES Teacher of the Year awards.

Professor Graham Galbraith CBE, Vice-Chancellor, University of Portsmouth

Professor Graham Galbraith was appointed Vice-Chancellor at the University of Portsmouth in 2013. Previous roles also include Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hertfordshire between 2008 and 2013, and Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) at Glasgow Caledonian University between 1993 and 2008.

Graham gained a BSc (1st class) in Environmental Engineering, an MSc, Mechanical Engineering and a PhD from the University of Strathclyde. He also holds Chartered Engineer status, Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, is a Member of the Chartered Institution for Building Service Engineers and a Member of the Institute of Directors.

Libby Hackett, Chief Executive Officer, James Martin Institute for Public Policy

Libby Hackett is the Chief Executive Officer of the James Martin Institute for Public Policy, based in Australia, and a visiting fellow at Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University (ANU). Libby was previously a Senior Partner at Perrett Laver, having joined from University Alliance in 2014. Libby led University Alliance in the UK 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.

Emma Hardy MP, former Shadow Universities Minister and Member of Parliament for Hull West and Hessle

Emma Hardy has been the Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle since June 2017. Prior to her political career, Emma was a teacher for ten years before leaving to become a full-time organiser for the National Union of Teachers.

During her time as Shadow Minister for Further Education and Universities she became a strong supporter of the civic university movement, and an advocate of the important role universities can play at the heart of their communities as agents for positive economic and social change. Emma sits on the Treasury Select Committee and chairs a number of All-Party Parliamentary Groups which reflect her interests in education, social inclusion and women’s health.

Her belief in positive local action has seen her establish projects to tackle the cost of school uniform and to increase urban biodiversity. In 2022 she launched Work Hull, Work Happy, which aims to establish Hull as the remote working capital of the UK.

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.

Elaine Hewitt, Chief Executive Officer, UPP

Elaine was appointed Chief Executive Officer of UPP in 2020, to lead and deliver on UPP’s strategic commitments to operational excellence, long-term partnerships and generating value for reinvestment in the future growth of the Business.

She has significant experience and expertise in delivering facilities and property services, gained most recently during her role as Chief Executive Officer for NHS Property Services Ltd where she was responsible for managing and servicing a £3bn asset portfolio, some 4,000 properties, 5,000 employees and an annual income of more than £700m.

Prior to this, Elaine held the position of Group Property Director at BT Group PLC where shemanaged the largest corporate portfolio in the UK, delivering services to 7,000 properties globally. As well as having considerable private sector experience, Elaine has also held public sector roles, notably Crown Representative in the Cabinet Office for Property and Facilities Management across Government.

Elaine is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Nick Hillman, Director, Higher Education Policy Institute (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.

Alistair Jarvis CBE, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Partnerships and Governance), University of London

Alistair’s role includes leadership of governance, communications, development, marketing, legal, inclusion, regulatory compliance and supporting partnerships with federation members.

He was CEO of Universities UK from 2017 to 2022. Leading the representative body for the UK’s 140 universities – a registered charity and six subsidiary entities – his role included influencing policy, strategy and member engagement. Before this, he was Deputy CEO and Director of External Relations since 2013.

Previously, he was a Director at the University of Birmingham and has held external engagement roles for national organisations.

Alistair received a CBE in 2022 for services to Higher Education and supporting the sector during the covid-19 crisis.

He is a member of the UCAS Board of Trustees and a member of the advisory boards of Wonkhe, the UPP Foundation and the Discovery Decade project. Alistair was educated at the Universities of Kent, Leicester and the Institute of Education, UCL.

Professor Nick Jennings CB FREng FRS, Vice-Chancellor and President of Loughborough University

Professor Nick Jennings is an internationally-recognised authority in the areas of AI, autonomous systems, cyber-security and agent-based computing. He is a member of the UK government’s AI Council, the governing body of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Policy Committee.

Previously, Professor Jennings was the Vice-Provost for Research and Enterprise at Imperial College London, the UK Government’s first Chief Scientific Advisor for National Security, and the Regius Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton. He has received a number of prestigious awards for his research including the Computers and Thought Award, the ACM Autonomous Agents Research Award, and the Lovelace Medal.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the British Computer Society, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), the Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour (AISB), the Royal Society of the Arts, the City and Guilds of London Institute, the German AI Institute (DFKI) and the European Artificial Intelligence Association and a member of Academia Europaea.

Mark Leach, Founder, CEO and Editor in Chief, Wonkhe

Mark Leach is the founder, CEO and Editor in Chief of Wonkhe. Before setting up Wonkhe, Mark worked in policy and public affairs roles in and around higher education, working at the National Union of Students, HEFCE, University Alliance, GuildHE as well as in politics as a special adviser to the former Shadow Minister for Universities and Science. As CEO of Wonkhe, Mark is responsible for running and developing the business and as Editor in Chief, overseeing Wonkhe’s editorial platforms that span influential email briefings, and The Wonkhe Show podcast which he also hosts.

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.

John 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.

Rachel Sandby-Thomas CB, Registrar, University of Warwick

Rachel Sandby-Thomas is a Registrar at the University of Warwick and has been in the role since 2016. Prior to this, she was Director General for Skills, Deregulation and Local Growth at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills from September 2015 to April 2016.

Prior to that, she was Director General, Enterprise and Skills from September 2013, and Director General Business and Skills from May 2012. She was Director General, Legal, People and Communications from 2009. In addition, she has also been Director General Legal since 2008.

Before that, Rachel was a Director in the Legal Services Group of the then Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) between 2004 and 2006, before moving to head up the advisory lawyers at HM Revenue and Customs. Other departments she has advised include HM Treasury, Cabinet Office, the Attorney General’s Office, and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Professor Mark E. Smith, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Southampton

Professor Mark E. Smith became Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton in October 2019. Mark was previously Vice-Chancellor at Lancaster University and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick.

Mark holds a number of external appointments including membership of Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) Board; Senior Independent Member of UKRI EPSRC’s Council; and board member of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, chairing their Research Wales Committee. He also chairs the Financial Sustainability Strategy Group for Higher Education and the University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) and has recently been appointed as a Council member of the All-Party Parliamentary University Group.

Vivienne Stern, Chief Executive of Universities UK

Vivienne Stern MBE has been Chief Executive of Universities UK (UUK) since September 2022. Prior to this, she was Director of Universities UK International (UUKi), part of UUK which represents the collective voice of UK universities on the global stage.

She has played a significant role in major policy and political decisions including the introduction of a new Graduate Route visa, influencing the creation of the Turing Scheme which funds students to spend time abroad, and working to shape the International Education Strategy which committed the UK government to growth in international student numbers to 600k by 2030 – a target achieved almost a decade early.

Vivienne was awarded an MBE for Services to International Education in the New Years’ Honours List 2022, and in 2021 received the European Association of International Educators’ “Vision and Leadership” award and the PIEoneer “Outstanding Contribution to the Industry” award.

Professor Evelyn Welch, Vice-Chancellor, University of Bristol

Professor Evelyn Welch is the University of Bristol’s first ever female Vice-Chancellor and has been in the post since September 2022. She previously served as Senior Vice President (Service, People & Planning) and Provost (Arts & Sciences) at King’s College London and as its Interim President in 2021.

Prior to King’s, she held senior leadership roles at the University of Sussex (Pro Vice-Chancellor for Teaching & Learning) and Queen Mary, University of London (Dean, Arts and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research & International).

Professor Welch, who is originally from New York, studied Renaissance History and Literature at Harvard University before gaining a PhD from The Warburg Institute in London. She has led a range of major interdisciplinary research programmes throughout her career and in 2013 was awarded an MBE for services to higher education and the creative economy.