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Advance HE Board

Advance HE’s Board was established on 31 March 2018 following the merger of three organisations, Equality Challenge Unit, Higher Education Academy and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. Each of the previous Boards nominated one of their members to join the Advance HE Board, along with a further two members nominated by UUK and GuildHE. Following an open recruitment process, further Board members were appointed.

Our Board is advising on a new five-year strategic framework which, in turn, has been developed from feedback from sector consultation.

Find out more about our Board members below:

Sir Nigel Carrington

Sir Nigel Carrington has been the Vice Chancellor of University of the Arts London (UAL) since 2008.  Before joining the University in September 2008, Nigel’s career was in the commercial sector, including 21 years with Baker & McKenzie, the international law firm, where he was Managing Partner of the London Office and Chairman of the Firm’s European Region, and 7 years as Managing Director and Deputy Chairman of the McLaren Group, the world leader in high performance automotive design and production.

In addition to his responsibilities at UAL, Nigel holds a number of non-executive positions in the public and charitable sectors, including as Chairman of the Henry Moore Foundation.

He was educated at St John’s College Oxford (Law) and The Courtauld Institute of Art (History of Art).

Nigel Carrington

Professor Geoff Layer

Geoff Layer is the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton and is the senior executive and academic officer of the University. He joined the University on the 1 August 2011.

He graduated from Newcastle Polytechnic with a LLB (Hons) and entered a teaching and research career initially in Manchester and then in Luton. He joined the Sheffield Business School in 1983 as a Lecturer in Law. While at Sheffield Hallam University he established a suite of access and student support initiatives leading to the establishment of a national reputation for inclusive learning. He was an adviser to a range of national quality assurance and educational development initiatives and became Professor of Lifelong Learning in 1996.

In 1999 he joined the University of Bradford as Director of the Centre for Continuing Education. He was the founding Dean of the School of Lifelong Education and Development in 2001, and became Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) in 2004 before becoming Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).

Between 2000 and 2006 he was the Director of Action on Access, an agency established to advise HEFCE on its Widening Participation Strategy. He was also Director of the HEFCE Innovations Co-ordination Team from 2000-2002. 

He is a member of the Black Country Local Economic Partnership, a Board member of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Higher Education Public Information Steering Group, a member of the QAA Advisory Committee on Degree Awarding Powers, a trustee of the Open College Network West Midlands, a trustee of the Universities Association for Lifelong Learning, and a range of local and regional bodies.

Geoff is also the Chair of the Steering Group of the HEFCE funded Centre for Sustainable Procurement. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and was awarded the OBE for services to Higher Education in 2003.

Professor Geoff Layer

Professor Janice Kay

Professor Janice Kay is the Provost and Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Exeter.

She is a Professor of cognitive neuropsychology, first appointed to Exeter through a Wellcome Trust University Lectureship. Her research, which has received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council, Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council, is concerned with theoretical modelling, assessment and rehabilitation of disorders of perception, speech, language and memory.

In the role of Provost, Janice is deputy to the Vice-Chancellor. She provides strategic leadership for the overall corporate plan and oversees the portfolio of University strategies, ensuring their delivery as part of a coherent institutional schedule of activity. She holds specific accountability for the University’s strategic planning and budgeting processes as well as the University’s Global Advancement function. The Provost is responsible for the management of the University’s six Colleges, through the six Pro Vice-Chancellors.

Janice is Deputy Chair of the institutional level Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) exercise and is Chair of the TEF Subject Level Pilot. Janice is an inaugural Board Member of Advance HE. 

Janice has been prominent in widening access initiatives, nationally and regionally. She played an integral role in the establishment of the highly successful Exeter Mathematics School, the new Education Campus at Cranbrook, Exeter, and the South Devon University Technical College.  She is a non-executive director of the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.

Janice was recognised in the 2017 Queen's New Year honours with a CBE for services to Higher Education.

Professor Janice Kay

Professor Nigel Seaton

Nigel Seaton began his academic career at the University of Edinburgh, where he gained a BSc (Honours) in Chemical Engineering in 1982.  He went on to do an MSE and a PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania.  After completing his PhD in 1986, he worked as a research engineer with Atkins Research and Development and with BP.

From 1989 to 1997, he was a Lecturer in Chemical Engineering at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Clare College. He was a visiting professor at Cornell University in 1996-97. In 1997 he returned to the University of Edinburgh as Professor of Interfacial Engineering.Between 1998 and 2007, he was successively Head of the School of Chemical Engineering, Head of the Division of Engineering, Head of the Institute for Materials and Processes, and Dean of Undergraduate Studies in the College of Science and Engineering. He then became Assistant Principal (Taught Programme Development) and later Vice Principal (Academic). In 2008 he moved to the University of Surrey, firstly as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Development) and then as Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Professor Seaton joined Abertay University as Principal and Vice-Chancellor in 2012.

Professor Seaton is a Director of Jisc, a company that delivers information systems and services to universities and colleges. He is a member of the Executive Board of GuildHE.

Professor Seaton is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers.

Professor Nigel Seaton

Stephen Marston

Stephen joined the University of Gloucestershire in 2011 as Vice-Chancellor.

He had previously been Director General, Universities and Skills, at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Before then, Stephen was Director General for Lifelong Learning and Skills in the former Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and prior to that he was Director of Skills Group at DfES. Stephen joined the Department for Education and Science in 1983, where he worked on a range of schools, Further Education, Higher Education, and finance issues in various posts across the Department.

Stephen worked in the Cabinet Office/Economic Secretariat in the early 1990s. Between 1998 and 2002, he worked in the Higher Education Funding Council for England as Director for Institutions.

Stephen won a scholarship to Cambridge University where he studied Classics.

Stephen Marston

Professor Colin Riordan

Professor Colin Riordan took up the post of President and Vice-Chancellor at Cardiff University on 1 September 2012. Previously he was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex, having been appointed in October 2017. He moved to Essex from Newcastle University, where he had been Pro Vice-Chancellor and Provost of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences since August 2005.

Professor Riordan taught English as a foreign language at Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg in Germany (1982-84) and was Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer in German at Swansea University (1986-1998). He became Professor of German at Newcastle University in 1998, where he remained until his move to Essex in 2007.

Professor Riordan is a Board member of the Edge Foundation, UCAS and The Conversation (UK), and was previously a Board member of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. He is a Fulbright Commissioner and a member of Council of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

Professor Colin Riordan

Professor Eunice Simmons

Eunice Simmons studied biology at the University of Manchester, followed by a PGCE at Roehampton Institute and two years teaching secondary school science.  A studentship led to an MSc in the Conservation of Soil Fertility (University of Kent) followed by a PhD with the Forestry Commission (University of London).  Academic roles in two University of London Colleges (Wye and Imperial) and academic leadership roles in UCLAN, University of Cumbria and Nottingham Trent University have given Eunice national and international experience of HE and FE.

As Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) at NTU Eunice has institutional responsibility for the student experience and for quality assurance, curriculum development, employability, outreach and student success across Nottingham Trent University’s four campuses and 30,000 students.  

In 2015 Eunice launched the Trent Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT) to develop pedagogic research and practice, building on Nottingham Trent University’s reputation for innovation and excellence in teaching. TILT has engaged thousands of NTU academics and professional service staff since its inception in a range of collaboratively-designed practice and scholarship groups. Its distributed leadership model has been well received and has facilitated creative engagement in and between disciplines. TILT external events have attracted significant international interest on subjects ranging from data analytics to widening participation strategies.

Her current projects include a Curriculum Refresh of some 650 courses to ensure alignment with the University’s Strategic Plan and an institution-wide Success for All project which for 3 years has addressed student progression, attainment and outcomes across OFFA and equality groups. Eunice is also the institutional lead for Education for Sustainable Development and as a HEA Principal Fellow, Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and of the RSA, seeks to combine her expertise as an educator and scientist to challenge unsustainable approaches towards the use of the planet's natural resources.

Professor Eunice Simmons

Chris Sayers

Chris Sayers is the Chair of the Committee of University Chairs, and has been Chair of Northumbria University since 2012. Chris became Chair of CUC in April 2017, and has overseen the introduction the new CUC remuneration code and has worked closely with HEFCE, DFE and the OFS in helping to shape the governance requirements of the new regulatory framework. Since retiring from BT in 2012 where he ran a major IT services division for BT Global Services, he has increasingly spent his time working in areas where education can be used drive social mobility and increase opportunities for young, disadvantaged people. As such, apart from the leadership role that he occupies in HE, he is also on the board of a Social Enterprise, called Building Futures East, which works with young people in disadvantaged parts of Newcastle to help social change through skills training and, with his wife Tessa, he runs a charity that operates two children's homes and a school for very poor children in Southern India, with the aim of using education to break the poverty cycle. Chris is currently a Non-exec director of; Northumberland County Council’s development corporation, two IT companies and is the Chair of the Alnwick Playhouse Theatre.

Chris Sayers

Sam Parrett OBE

Sam is the CEO of London & South East Education Group and the Executive Principal of London South East Colleges. Sam was appointed Principal of Bromley College in 2010 and oversaw its first merger with Orpington College in 2011. In 2013, the College set up a new multi-academy trust, incorporating four special and alternative provision schools in the Borough. Following this success, Sam went on to lead the College through the country’s first three-way college merger with Bexley College and Greenwich Community College – creating London South East Colleges in August 2016. London & South East Colleges Group, headed up by Sam, was established in 2017 as the overarching organisation encompassing London South East Colleges, London South East Academies Trust (which has now grown to seven schools) London South East Apprenticeships Company and London Skills for Growth. 

Sam started her career in the HR sector. She then managed a training provider and worked for a funding agency before joining the FE sector in 1997. She took up posts in three colleges before being appointed Principal at Bromley. 

Sam is a fellow of the CIPD and a fellow of the RSA, as well as a Board Member of AELP and Advance HE. She was awarded an OBE for services to Further Education in 2016.

Sam Parrett OBE

Professor Helen Higson

Helen Higson completed her first degree in English Literature from Newnham College, followed by an MA with the Open University and a PhD at Birkbeck College.  Helen is Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Aston University where she is Chief Academic Officer and leads on learning and teaching and employability.  

She is Professor of Higher Education Learning and Management and National Teaching Fellow (NTF). Her current research includes intercultural training for staff and students and research into employability competencies and diversity.  Helen was awarded the OBE in 2011 for services to Higher Education and in 2017 was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands.

Professor Helen Higson

Rose Wangen-Jones

Rose Wangen-Jones is the Managing Director, Marketing at London & Partners, the official promotional agency for London. Working with the Mayor of London and a network of partners, she promotes London as a leading world city in which to study, invest, work, and visit. Previously, she was the CEO of The Writer, a global brand language consultancy. Before joining The Writer, she was Global Business Director at WPP, responsible for the communications and marketing of one of the group’s largest global accounts. She has spent most of her career in the private sector, leading the development of marketing communications for top national and multi-national brands.  During her time at WPP she was part of Common Ground, a sector-led initiative working with the UN to accelerate the achievement of its stated Sustainable Development Goals, with specific focus on gender equality.  Prior to WPP, she worked at BT where she was involved in Front Foot, an Advertising Association’s initiative to create advocacy for the advertising sector, proving its contribution to business and culture.

From 2016 to 2018 she served on the board of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education as a non-executive member.  During that time she helped the organisation through its recent merger, assisting in the development of its new vision and brand.

Rose Wangen-Jones is a member of the Marketing Society. She holds a BA in Economics from DePauw University and an MBA (Marketing) from the Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina.

Rose Wangen-Jones

Helen O'Sullivan

Helen O’Sullivan is Professor of Medical Education and joined Keele University as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) in January 2018. She was previously Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Online Learning at University of Liverpool.

As PVC at Keele, she takes strategic leadership for education and is currently interested in the concept of social learning as well as expanding the Keele community through developing flexible, online and transnational education. 

Helen graduated in molecular biology at the University of Liverpool before taking a PhD in bacterial genetics. After a post-doctoral fellowship at Liverpool, she moved to a lectureship in Biological Sciences at Liverpool Hope University. 

Helen moved back to University of Liverpool in 2006 to lead the Hefce funded Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. The work of the Centre helped to shape how medical professionalism is taught across medical schools in the UK and internationally. Her research focuses on the role of emotional intelligence in developing professionalism and leadership in doctors. Her current external activities include membership of UUK International’s TNE Advisory Group and of the Jisc Horizon Group.

Helen O'Sullivan

Nicola Arnold

Nicola Arnold was appointed as Director of Finance at St George’s University of London in January 2016.  

She trained as a chartered accountant with EY, qualifying in 1995 and then worked in numerous roles within the BBC for 12 years, covering internal audit, Radio 5 Live, Sport and Corporate Reporting.  She returned to EY as Head of Operations for the assurance practice, before moving to UCL in 2009 as Deputy Director of Finance, as well as covering for the Finance Director in UCL’s School of Life and Medical Sciences.  

Nicola has also served on the Audit Committee of the Equality Challenge Unit and as a member of Council for the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales.  She is still a member of the ICAEW’s Ethics Standard Committee and has been a governor at the West London Free School since 2015, chairing its Finance Committee.  

Nicola Arnold

Saad Qureshi

Saad Qureshi is currently UK Dean at SAE Institute, the world’s largest creative media education provider with 50 plus campuses around the world. He has vast experience in leading multi-campus and multi- disciplinary teams. A Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy he is passionate about pedagogical development and the student experience. He has designed over 20 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and his specialist expertise is in developing socially responsible graduates.

He is a Reviewer at the International Journal for Students as Partners, Registered Advisor with the UK Research and Innovation Office, and sits on the Board of Studies and the Professional Development Group of the Association of University Administrators (AUA). He was recently invited to join the UniversitiesUK TNE group. 

Saad started off in the charitable sector and is a qualified youth worker and peer mentor striving to raise aspirations of disadvantaged youth and adults. He was an advisor to the government between 2008 and 2010. He is currently also a member of the Metropolitan Police Independent Advisory Group in Lambeth. He was bestowed the Lambeth Civic Award in 2008 for services to the community.

Saad Qureshi

Chris Cobb

Chris Cobb is Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of London.  He was previously Pro Vice-Chancellor at Roehampton University  and prior to that was at the London School of Economics where he was Director of Business Systems and Services. Chris is a former member of the AHUA Executive (2014-2016) and is a member of UK HE Financial Sustainability Steering Group and is also a member of the HESA Data Futures Programme Board.

Chris has sat on a number of national working groups relating to IT in Higher Education. Chris is a member of Oracle EMEA HE Advisory Group and a member of Ovum’s Future EdTech Advisory Board. Previously he has been a member of the HEFCE Shared Services working group. He has undertaken JISC funded research in the use of enterprise architecture within a university context with the specific aim of developing a services oriented architecture to enable shared services. Chris has also taught University IT Management at the HUMANE Winter School and is a member of the HUMANE Executive Committee and Round Table. 

Chris is a judge on the Times Higher Education Awards and the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards, and is also a Governor of Goodenough College and a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists and the City of London.

Chris Cobb