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Audit, Finance and Risk Committee

The Audit, Finance and Risk Committee’s purpose is to have oversight of two main areas of work, Audit and Risk Management and; Financial strategy and performance.

The committee is responsible for advising the Board on the integrity of the statutory financial statements and the work of the external auditors. In conjunction the committee reviews the effectiveness of internal control and risk management arrangements. In relation to financial matters the committee gives consideration to the formulation of the finance planning for the organisation, including the annual budget and medium-term financial forecast ensuring the financial health and solvency of Advance HE.

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Chris Sayers (Chair of Committee and Board member)

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. 

Heather Francis

Heather is Chief Operating 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.

Saad Qureshi

Saad Qureshi is Executive General Manager and Dean for Navitas Europe. 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.

Graham Hillier (Co-optee)

Graham is the Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence at Northumbria University. He took this role after being a Governor of the University and Chairing the University’s Employment and Finance Committee for the seven years until July 2020. He is also a non-executive director and strategic advisor to a number of companies.

Prior to this Graham had a long and distinguished career as a strategy and innovation director in the aerospace, materials and construction industries before joining the Centre for Process Innovation where he was Strategy Director and Chief Technology and Innovation Officer as the company grew from 6 to over 500 people. We was also part of the team that created the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult where he was the organisation’s first CTO. He was honoured to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for his services to Innovation in 2019.  

Graham has a Metallurgy Degree from the University of Sheffield, a PhD from the University of Cambridge and an MBA from the Open University. He is Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, a Fellow of the Institute of Directors and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

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 a Governor of De Montfort University and works as an independent advisor and writer on change in universities.