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GDP: Scotland New Governors

Radisson Blu Hotel, 301 Argyle St, Glasgow, G2 8DL
County / Region
Position on the Pathway
Governor's Pathway
Fellowship Category
All Fellowship Categories
Event Type
Networking Events
Start Date
End Date
One day
Institution Type
Higher Education and Further Education
Price From

For new and Student Governors of Scottish HE institutions and FE colleges offering HE programmes in Scotland.

Learning about the distinctive features of the role of court members in Scottish HE can be daunting for those stepping into the role, even for those with extensive experience in other areas. This event offers an opportunity for those new to the position to examine these facets, exchange good practice and network with peers from other institutions. The event also represents the the first steps for new governors, whether they are stepping into governance for the first time or have been a Governor in another sector and need to know more about the specifics of governance for HE in Scotland.

New Governor


Aaron Porter,  Associate Director (Governance), Advance HE

Aaron Porter is the Associate Director (Governance) for Advance HE leading on engagement with governing bodies and governance across the UK, including leading reviews of board effectiveness. He has worked with over 75 universities both in the UK and overseas, as well as projects for national governments focused on higher education. His portfolio of roles includes Director of Insights for the Hotcourses Group and as an external adviser to Civitas Learning. He is a member of the governing council at Goldsmiths, University of London and is Chair of the Board of Governance at Nelson College, a specialist higher education college in East London. 

He has previously served on the council of the University of Leicester, and the boards of a number of higher education sector bodies including Higher Education Funding Council for England, Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, the Higher Education Academy and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. 

He was previously President of the National Union of Students in 2010-11, during the high profile debate on tuition fees. He also co-chaired the Beer/Porter Student Charter group which reported to the Higher Education Minister, David Willets, in January 2011.

Aaron Porter

Donna McMillan, University Secretary – University of the West of Scotland

The University of the West of Scotland is Scotland’s largest modern university with four Scottish campuses and one London campus.

Donna took on her current role providing institutional leadership for University Corporate and Academic Governance in 2011 as University Secretary having previously been Academic Registrar and Director of the Quality Enhancement Unit at the University.

A member of the University Executive Group, the University Secretary provides advice to the Principal and colleagues across the University as well as support and advice to members of the Court with a key role in ensuring the effective operation and conduct of the governing body.  Externally, Donna is a member of the Universities Scotland Secretaries Group and the Association of Heads of University Administration (AHUA)

Donna is responsible for the academic and corporate governance of the University, ensuring the University meets its statutory, constitutional, regulatory and procedural responsibilities through the management of the operation of the Court and the Senate and their sub-committees.  Additionally, Donna has strategic oversight of risk and resilience; health and safety; the provision of legal and compliance services and all ceremonial arrangements.

Donna has a Master’s degree in Law (LLM) and an Honours degree in History and English Literature.

Donna McMillan

David Lott, Deputy Director (Policy), Universities Scotland 

David is Deputy Director (Policy) at Universities Scotland, the representative body of Scotland's 19 higher education institutions where he has particular responsibility for resources and governance issues.  Prior to joining Universities Scotland David worked for 13 years at the Scottish Funding Council across a number of policy areas.  David began his career in higher education policy working at the London offices of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE).

David Lott

Matt Crilly, President, University of Strathclyde Students’ Association

Matt was elected President of the Strathclyde Student Union in June 2018 for the standard one-year term, was re-elected President for a second year and will serve until June 2020. As part of his role Matt is Chair of the charity’s trustee board.

Matt also holds the position of Postgraduate Officer for the National Union of Students Scotland, and sits as a member of the Scottish Executive Committee as well as being involved in a range of strategic committees as the University of Strathclyde, including holding membership of University Court.

Matt Crilly

David Bass, Assistant Director, Membership (Scotland, Wales, Ireland), Advance HE

David leads the strategic development, planning and delivery of Advance HE’s programme for universities and colleges in Scotland. He brings a wealth of experience working with the Scottish sector, in governance as well as strategic planning and management, SFC Outcome Agreements, and equality and diversity. David is currently leading our governance review for Edinburgh College. He previously managed the ‘Diversity in Governance’ project in Scotland, supporting the sector to successfully improve the diversity of governing bodies and meet recent government legislative priorities, and enhance effective oversight of equality and diversity in colleges and HEIs. He is a member of the Scottish Government’s Scottish National Equality Improvement Project board.

David Bass

Event Agenda

09.30 Arrival: registration and refreshments

10.00 Welcome and introductions, Aaron Porter, Associate Director Governance, Advance HE

10.15 University decision making and topical issues in HE governance, Donna McMillan, University Secretary, University of the West of Scotland

11.00 How can a university navigate the policy landscape? David Lott, Deputy Director (Policy), Universities Scotland

11.45 Refreshment break

12.10 in conversation with… Matt Crilly, President, University of Strathclyde Students’ Association

12.45 Lunch

13.45 Ingredients of good governance, Table discussions

14.30 Strategic approaches to EDI, David Bass, Assistant Director, Membership (Scotland, Wales, Ireland), Advance HE

15.15 Refreshment break

15.25 Reflections on the day, priorities to hit the ground running, Table Discussions

15.45 Closing remarks

Event Agenda

Download Resource

GDP Scotland New Governors Agenda


If you would like to find out more about our other governance events, please visit our Governance Development Programme page.

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