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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:

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.

Heather Francis

Heather is Chief Financial Officer at the University of the Arts London. She joined the university in 2019.

Her key responsibilities as Chief Financial Officer are to lead and manage the finance function to meet the needs of the university, ensuring a strong financial strategy and compliance with statutory and regulatory financial requirements.

Heather joined the university from the Victoria and Albert Museum where she was Director of Finance and Resources, prior to this she worked at Save the Children International.

Heather Francis is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and holds a BSocSc in Economics from Southampton University.

Dr Sam Grogan (Co-optee)

Following an early career in the creative industries, Sam has spent the last decade and a half in student-centric leadership positions within a range of higher UK education institutions. As Pro Vice Chancellor for Student Experience at the University of Salford, Sam holds Executive responsibility for quality and standards of the academic portfolio, Executive responsibility for the Learning and Teaching Network within the university, Executive responsibility for developing the learning philosophy underpinning the student journey and Executive oversight of the wider pastoral and supporting infrastructure which underpins the student journey and outcomes. These responsibilities focus upon enabling student success in the context of performance against student quality metrics to ensure value for money.

Sam has also led on the university’s academic response to Covid-19. He has ensured teaching and learning practices have adapted towards delivery of excellent student outcomes, and that institutional practices are reimagined to learn from the pandemic as we tilt towards positive and lasting change.

Alongside work at Salford, Sam continues to work in leadership and thought leadership nationally and internationally, building on a range of external engagements and board experiences.

Annette Hay

Annette works as a Senior Research Delivery Support Partner at Coventry University.  She completed her first Degree in Social Studies at the University of Warwick and later completed her Masters Degree in Leadership and Management at Coventry University.  She is also an alumni of Advance HE’s Diversifying Leadership Programme.

Annette has over 30 years of activism around equity, diversity and inclusion, which she has maintained throughout her working career in Higher Education and is a passionate and strategic advocate for the role and importance of institutional leadership in tackling racial inequalities and embedding anti-racist practices.  She has a substantive role supporting, developing and implementing a number of strategic and operational initiatives and actions at her institution.

Annette is an accomplished manager and leader and has a principle role in Coventry University’s drive towards extending and building on strategic and purposeful relationships and collaborations on a local, national and global scale.  She is recognised for her strategic influence and input on policy, practice and external engagements and is keen to extend her international networks and relations.

Annette is a member of several Boards and Committees including, Coventry University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Council, including Chair of the Equity Acceleration Group and Race Equality Council.  She is currently the first and only international Board member of the esteemed American based ‘National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education’ (NADOHE), which is the leading voice for Senior Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officers.  She is one of the founding members of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group for the Association of Research Management and Administration (ARMA), a member of the Women in Higher Education Network (WHEN) and an alumni of the International focussed leadership Common Purpose programme.

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 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 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.

Janet Legrand QC (Hon)

Janet is the Senior Lay Member of Court at the University of Edinburgh, Chair of the Board of The Children’s Society and a member of the advisory panel of IntoUniversity. A lawyer by profession, Janet is the former Senior Partner, Board Chair and Global Co-Chair of DLA Piper, a global law firm with 90 offices worldwide, where she combined senior leadership roles with an international disputes practice, latterly representing Governments.

Janet has significant governance experience in higher education, in particular from her prior roles on the Audit Committee of the University of Cambridge, as Deputy Chair of City, University of London where she was also a Trustee of the Student’s Union, as Deputy Chair of the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission and on the Board of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. She is an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge.

On her appointment as Queen’s Counsel Honoris Causa in 2018, the Lord Chancellor described Janet as “… a pioneer in enhancing the role of women in the law, promoting social mobility, diversity and inclusion within her firm and the wider profession…”

Professor Quintin McKellar CBE

Professor McKellar has been the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Hertfordshire since 2011. He is chair of the Hatfield Renewal Project Board.  In 2015 he was elected as a Board member of Universities UK (UUK) and in April 2020 was appointed as UUK Vice-President (England and Northern Ireland). He was chair of the University Vocational Awards Council until 2019 and has been a member of the government’s Apprenticeship Stakeholder Board since 2016. He was Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Pirbright institute between 2015 and 2019 and since 2018 he has been a Non-Executive Director of the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock.

Professor McKellar was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2011 for services to science.  He was a distinguished researcher with interests in the pharmacology of anti-infective and anti-inflammatory drugs in domestic animals.

He graduated from Glasgow University Veterinary School in 1981 and went on to gain a PhD in Veterinary Parasitology in 1984.  In August 1997 Professor McKellar took up the post of Scientific Director of the Moredun Research Institute and Chief Executive of the Moredun Foundation.  In 2004, he was appointed Principal of The Royal Veterinary College of the University of London.

Professor Helen O'Sullivan

Helen O’Sullivan is Provost and Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Chester. Before joining the University of Chester, Helen was Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) at Keele University and Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Online Learning at University of Liverpool.

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.

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.

Professor David Sadler

David Sadler was appointed to UWA as the Deputy Vice Chancellor Education in October 2017. He was previously the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students and Education) at the University of Tasmania from early 2011 and led many initiatives around infrastructure for education, student experience, curriculum renewal and especially the educational attainment agenda, leading the Children’s University, Tasmania, which is now also operating in Western Australia.

David is a Principal Fellow (PFHEA). He is currently Chair of Universities Australia DVC A Executive and leads UA’s work on academic integrity; teaching recognition and stakeholder relationships with TEQSA.  David is also Chair of the Australian Awards (Program Awards) for University Teaching. David previously served on the Office of Learning and Teaching Strategic Advisory Board.

In the UK, David was Director (Networks) for the Higher Education Academy and before then Director of the Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics (CSAP) at the University of Birmingham.  David is a UK National Teaching Fellow (2005). David’s academic specialism is in crisis decision-making in international security and he worked for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a Senior Research Officer in Arms Control and Disarmament from 1988-1992, embracing many aspects of the end of the Cold War.

David is a life fellow of the RSA and a former Council member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).

Chris Sayers

Chris Sayers was the Chair of the Committee of University Chairs between 2017-2020, and was Chair of Northumbria University until 2020.  He is now a board member of SRUC. Chris became Chair of CUC in April 2017, overseeing the introduction the new CUC remuneration code and working 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 also currently a non exec director of an IT services company, is the Chair of the Alnwick Playhouse Theatre, and a trustee of The Youth Charter. 

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.

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.

Paul Woodgates

Paul is an expert in strategy, operations, change and leadership in universities.

He was previously responsible for building and running the education consulting practice of PA Consulting internationally. He has worked with more than 30 universities in the UK as well as many others overseas. His experience was in delivering major programmes to define strategy, improve academic outcomes, deliver better services, and reduce cost. He has also worked extensively with government departments, regulators and funding bodies in the higher education sector in the UK and elsewhere.

Paul graduated from Durham University with a BA (Hons) in Economics and then qualified as a chartered accountant. He worked as a consultant, programme leader and change manager in a range of organisations particularly in the public sector.

He is now a writer and speaker on change in universities and works as an independent advisor. He is also a non-executive board member in the higher education sector.