Roberta helped establish the Westminster Higher Education Form and the Higher Education Commission and chaired the Parliamentary University Group for several years, a forum where Vice-Chancellors and other senior university officers discuss policy and strategic issues with parliamentarians and ministers.
At an international level Roberta was an active member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and made extensive use of these networks to support global education initiatives and foster better parliamentary governance. She was also the Vice-Chair of the United Nations APPG for a number of years.
Her career before entering parliament included working in social services at Newcastle City Council and as a social policy academic at the University of Ulster and the University of Newcastle. She was Dean of Social and Labour Studies at Ruskin College, Oxford and a Head of School and Associate Dean at Northumbria University.
Having worked in the North East for many years as well as being a local councillor and MP, Roberta has excellent relationships with leaders in the North East region in business, industry, education, culture and politics. She is committed to the development of the region and what the talent and skills of the people offer for the future prosperity of the country.
Roberta has a strong belief in the power of universities not only to transform individual lives but transform communities and societies too. She believes the research, innovation and knowledge exchange they undertake are essential for the creation of new jobs and whole new sectors of the economy. She also greatly values the role universities play in educating and growing leaders of the future.
Her goal as Chair of the Board at Northumbria University is to support and challenge the senior team to take the University forward as a major player in the sector and globally, realising this potential with its excellent and distinctive mission, its highly engaged colleagues and successful students.
Roberta maintained close links with Northumbria over many years including as a Visiting Professor and she is delighted to be able to contribute to its ongoing success as Chair of the Board.