Who We Represent

Universities Scotland is proud to represent all 19 of Scotland's higher education institutions

University of Aberdeen

Principal: Professor George Boyne

Route into university

George attended Aberdeen Grammar School before studying at the University of Aberdeen where he became a double graduate.  He was the first person in his immediate family to attend university.


Academic specialism

Explanation and evaluation of organisational performance in the public sector.

Concise career profile

Professor George Boyne became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen on 1 August 2018.  Professor Boyne has spent the majority of his academic career in Wales.  He was Pro Vice-Chancellor, Head of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and a member of University Executive Board at Cardiff University since 2012. He was previously Dean of Cardiff University’s Business School, and is a world-leading expert on the performance of public sector organisations.

Professor Boyne has been a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences since 2010.


Abertay University

Principal: Professor Nigel Seaton

Route into university

Nigel studied chemical engineering at the University of Edinburgh, having chosen the subject because of its blend of chemistry, physics and mathematics, all of which interested him at school. During his university studies, he spent a year as an exchange student at the University of Pennsylvania, and returned there to do his PhD.


Academic specialism

Chemical Engineering.

Concise career profile

Nigel has been Principal of Abertay University since 2012.  He began his academic career at the University of Cambridge, after working in industrial research for several years.  In 1997, he moved to the University of Edinburgh as Professor of Interfacial Engineering.  He held a number of senior roles within the College of Science and Engineering at Edinburgh before being appointed Vice Principal (Academic). In 2008 he moved to the University of Surrey as Deputy Vice Chancellor, then Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor before joining Abertay.

Nigel is a Chartered Engineer, a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers.


Roles held at US

Former Convener of the International Committee.

University of Dundee

Principal: Professor Andrew Atherton

Route into university

Andrew is a Mandarin Chinese speaker, having studied Chinese and Economics at SOAS University of London. He also has a Masters degree in International and Development Economics from Yale University, and a PhD by publication from the University of Lincoln.


Academic specialism

Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

Concise career profile

Professor Andrew Atherton has been Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee since January 2019.

Professor Atherton was formerly Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Enterprise at Lancaster University and is an expert in SME policy and China. At Lancaster he was responsible to the Vice-Chancellor for the overall academic development of the University, and oversees annual planning and major institutional projects.

Before joining Lancaster in 2013, Professor Atherton was Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Lincoln University, where he led on major university initiatives, including establishing the first new School of Engineering in the UK for more than 20 years, in partnership with Siemens.

Previously he worked at Durham University from 1995 to 2002, latterly as Head of Department and before that as Director of the Policy Research Unit within the Small Business Centre, Durham University Business School.

He has advised national and regional government as well as major bilateral and multilateral agencies on enterprise and small business policy development and implementation. He is a Mandarin Chinese speaker.

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University of Edinburgh

Principal: Professor Peter Mathieson

Route into university

Peter was the first member of his family to go to university. He attended a state grammar school in Penzance, Cornwall, and went on to read Medicine at the London Hospital Medical College.

mathieosn image

Academic specialism

Clinical Medicine and Nephrology

Concise career profile

Peter Mathieson assumed the office of Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh in February 2018.

He was awarded a First Class Honours from the University of London in 1983 and after junior medical posts, obtained a research training fellowship from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to study at the University of Cambridge. He was awarded a PhD in 1992 and went on to become Director of Studies for Clinical Medicine at Christ’s College, Cambridge. After a further MRC fellowship he moved to Bristol in 1995 as the foundation Professor of Renal Medicine at the University of Bristol and Honorary Consultant Nephrologist, North Bristol NHS Trust.

In April 2014, Peter assumed office as the 15th President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong, a post he held until January 2018.

Of the various prizes and academic awards that he has received, he is most proud of being voted “Teacher of the Year” by Cambridge medical students in 1992; the Milne-Muehrcke award from the Renal Association and the National Kidney Foundation of USA for “most promising young researcher” from UK in 1997; the UK Renal Association Lockwood Award (for contribution to academic renal medicine) in 2004; and being voted “top teacher 2011-12” by Foundation doctors at University Hospitals Bristol.


Edinburgh Napier University

Principal: Professor Andrea Nolan

Route into university

With the support of her parents and highly motivated and inspiring school teachers, Andrea was among the first generation in her family to go to university.


Academic specialism

Veterinary Pharmacology

Concise career profile

Andrea became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University in July 2013 following a range of leadership roles in the University of Glasgow including Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (1999 – 2004), Vice Principal for Learning & Teaching (2004 – 2009) and Senior Vice-Principal & Deputy Vice Chancellor (2009 – 2013).

Andrea graduated as a veterinary surgeon from Trinity College Dublin and after a short time in veterinary practice, embarked on an academic career which took her to the Universities of Cambridge, Bristol and the Technical University of Munich. She was appointed Professor of Veterinary Pharmacology in 1998 and is an established research leader in the field of animal pain. Andrea is a board member of the following: QAA Scotland Committee, Higher Education Statistics Agency, Universities and Colleges Employers Association, Royal Zoological Society Scotland Board, Interface Advisory Board and the Moredun Foundation. Andrea is also a Trustee for Medical Research Scotland and is a member of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce Council.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies and an honorary life member of the Association for Veterinary Teachers & Research Workers. Andrea was awarded an honorary OBE in 2013.


Roles held at US

Current Convener of Universities Scotland. Previously Convener of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee.

University of Glasgow

Principal: Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli

Route into university

Anton was the first in his family to go to university, having been born in Italy and having moved to the UK during his high school days. He originally studied physics and then moved to economics.


Academic specialism


Concise career profile

Anton Muscatelli is a graduate of the University of Glasgow who began his post as Principal there on 1 October 2009.

Anton began work as temporary lecturer in the University of Glasgow in 1984. He became a Professor of Economics in 1992, and was Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, 2000 to 2004, and Vice-Principal (Strategy, Budgeting and Advancement) from 2004 until 2007. He then moved to Heriot-Watt University where he was Principal and Vice-Chancellor from 2007 to 2009.

As Principal, Anton has led the University of Glasgow through two major strategic plans, and the University has improved its standing in major international league tables. He has championed widening access and internationalisation at the University. The University has also gained its best position in terms of research assessment outcomes in REF 2014 and research income. Glasgow continues to excel in its student experience.

Anton is currently President of the David Hume Institute, and a member of the Council of Economic Advisers of the Scottish Government, and of the Board of the Scottish Funding Council. He has served as a special adviser to the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, and has been a consultant to the European Commission and the World Bank.

Anton was awarded a knighthood in 2017.


Roles held at US

Former Convener of Universities Scotland and previously Convener of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee.

Glasgow Caledonian University

Principal: Professor Pamela Gillies

Route into university

Pamela was the first in her family to go to university. Weekly visits to the local library with her mother who loved reading and the encouragement of both her working class parents gave her the confidence to do well at school.


Academic specialism

Public Health, Epidemiology, HIV/AIDS, smoking related diseases.

Concise career profile

Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University since 2006, Pamela was a member of the Board of Trustees of the British Council from 2008 to 2014, and is a Founding Trustee of the Grameen Scotland Foundation. Previously a Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Nottingham, Pamela has worked in Geneva as a member of the World Health Organisation’s Global Programme on AIDS (1989-90); at Harvard University as a Visiting Professor and Scholar in Health and Human Rights (1992-3); as a Harkness Fellow of the Commonwealth Fund of New York; and in London on a seconded post as the first Executive Director of Research at the Health Education Authority for England (1996-99). She has researched and written widely on HIV/AIDS, health development, and inequalities in health focusing on the potential of social action for health.

As Vice-Chancellor of the first Scottish University to have a postgraduate campus in London she is also President of the University’s New York Campus. She is a founding Board member of GCU’s partner Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing in Dhaka, and is a member of the Global Advisory Council of the first African Leadership College, which GCU is co-founding in Mauritius.

glasgow-caledonian university

Roles held at US

Former Convener of the Health Committee.

Glasgow School of Art

Principal: Professor Irene McAra-McWilliam

Academic specialism

Innovation and Design Research


Concise career profile

Professor Irene McAra-McWilliam has been the Director of The Glasgow School of Art since November 2018.

Before starting in Glasgow in September 2005, she was Professor and Business Fellow in Innovation at The Royal College of Art in London and Head of the Interaction Design Department. As Professor of Design Research at the University of Technology in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, she examined ways in which technology can enhance community and social sustainability.

Professor McAra-McWilliam is a frequent speaker at international conferences and is a consultant to industry and government. She has been voted one of fifty top design leaders by the UK’s Design Week magazine and is an expert in design innovation and digital culture.

Professor Irene McAra-McWilliam was awarded an OBE in the 2016 Queen’s New Year’s Honours, in recognition of her work in Higher Education, Innovation and Design. The award recognised the wide impact of her work at The Glasgow School of Art over many years, notably her leadership of the School of Design, the Institute for Design Innovation (now the Innovation School) and the Creative Campus developments in the Highlands and Islands.


Heriot-Watt University

Principal: Professor Richard A Williams

Route into university

Richard was a first in his family generation to enter higher education on a sandwich-style industrial degree in the mining sector in Scandinavia and South Africa. He undertook a PhD working with De Beers Diamonds.  Alongside his later career in HE he has worked in his own company start-ups in four locations in UK and USA.

Richard A Williams Headshot

Academic specialism

Minerals and energy engineering

Concise career profile

Professor Richard A. Williams was appointed Principal and Vice Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University in September 2015. The University operates from five locations in Edinburgh, Galashiels, Orkney, Dubai and Putrajaya in Malaysia.

Professor Williams is an engineer and entrepreneur with a background in minerals and energy engineering. He has extensive interests in the funding and deployment of radical environmental innovations. He is an Academician of The Royal Academy of Engineering, The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and is an Honorary Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He was appointed an OBE for services to science and engineering in 2008. He serves as Vice President of The Royal Academy of Engineering and is an elected Trustee of the Academy. He has worked on inter-governmental bodies relating to energy storage technology and policy and STEM education.

He is a graduate of Imperial College London (BSc(Eng), PhD) and has held academic posts as a chemical engineer at Manchester (UMIST), and the Universities of  Exeter, Leeds and Birmingham. As Pro Vice Chancellor at Leeds and Birmingham he held major responsibilities for work in Asia, Middle East, South America and Malaysia. He was a founding operational director of the Manufacturing Technology Centre Catapult (2011-2015) in Coventry and, formerly, as an active elected member of the CBI Council.


Roles held at US

Convener of the International Committee.

University of the Highlands and Islands

Principal: Professor Clive Mulholland

Route into university

Clive is the first generation of his family to attend University. He left school at sixteen and followed a vocational route before gaining a degree and PhD.


Academic specialism

How new technologies can be exploited to enhance student experience. Biomedical Science.

Concise career profile

Clive took up his current post in 2014. He was previously Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Student Experience at the University of South Wales. He has held positions at the University of Ulster, Queen’s University Belfast and Swansea University. He began his career in the scientific civil service before moving to the NHS and eventually to the university sector.

university of the highlands & islands

Roles held at US

Vice Convener of the International Committee.

Open University in Scotland

Director: Susan Stewart

Route into university

Susan was the first in her family to go to university. She is a graduate of St Andrews University and Smith College, Massachusetts and became Director of the Open University in Scotland in December 2015.


Concise career profile

Susan began her career in political journalism before moving into strategic communications and government relations. She was Depute Head of the Scottish Government Communications Office before being appointed as Scotland’s first Diplomat to the USA, setting up the Scottish Affairs Office in the UK Embassy in Washington DC.  Susan spent seven years at the University of Glasgow as Director of Corporate Communications and she is a passionate advocate of widening access.


Roles held at US

Ms Stewart leads the articulation workstream of our work to deliver fair access.

Queen Margaret University Edinburgh

Principal: Professor Petra Wend

Route into university

Petra belongs to the first generation in her family to go to university after a lot of encouragement from inspirational primary and secondary school teachers.

Petra-Wend QMU

Academic specialism

Italian Literature, Linguistics and Strategic Leadership

Concise career profile

Petra has been Principal and Vice Chancellor of Queen Margaret University Edinburgh since September 2009.  With a research background in institutional strategies underpinning successful leadership, improvements in student experience and university performance indicators, Professor Wend has a significant profile of academic publications and invited lectures.

As Principal of Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, Petra has developed the University’s research profile. As a result QMU was described as one of the highest risers in the UK press.


Roles held at US

Professor Wend leads the bridging programmes workstream of our work to deliver fair access. Formerly Vice Convener and Convener of the Learning and Teaching Committee.

Robert Gordon University

Principal: Professor John Harper

Route into university

John was born and brought up in Wick in the North of Scotland before moving to Aberdeen where he studied for both an honours degree and a PhD in Chemistry at the University of Aberdeen.


Academic specialism


Concise career profile

John was born and brought up in Wick in the North of Scotland. He entered higher education as a lecturer in Chemistry at the former Robert Gordon Institute of Technology and subsequently progressed to senior-lectureship and then Head of School of Applied Sciences. In this role, John was involved in a range of national activities, including teaching quality assessment, external examining and course development and approval. This contributed to his attaining the award of Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

John was promoted to the role of Assistant Principal/Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Care before progressing to the role of Vice Principal and subsequently Deputy Principal and Vice-Chancellor with specific responsibility for Academic Quality and Development and subsequently Principal and Vice Chancellor.

John has served on a number of national committees associated with institutional quality assurance, quality enhancement and widening participation and undertaken non-executive governance roles in a range of organisations including national regulator, FE College, and private School.


Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Principal: Professor Jeffrey Sharkey

Route into university

Jeff left High School early to enroll at University of Delaware. Then attended Manhattan School of Music, Yale and Cambridge Universities.


Academic specialism

Piano, Composition, Performing Arts and Academic Administration.

Concise career profile

RCS Principal since September 2014, pianist and composer Jeffrey Sharkey was previously Director of Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute and Dean of the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Jeff spent the first 13 years of his career in the UK, as Head of Academic Music and Composition at Wells Cathedral School and then as Director of Music at the Purcell School.  He has also performed, recorded and toured extensively in Europe and the USA with the Pirasti Piano Trio, and is in demand as a chamber music coach, regularly giving masterclasses.


Roles held at US

Current Vice Convener of the Learning and Teaching Committee.

Scotland's Rural College

Principal: Professor Wayne Powell

Route into university

Wayne was born in a small mining village, Abercraf, in the Swansea Valley and was the first member of his family to attend University.


Academic specialism

Plant genetics and breeding

Concise career profile

World leading plant scientist Professor Wayne Powell became Principal and Chief Executive of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) in 2016. A land-based HEI SRUC delivers a diverse portfolio of services including research, education, training, disease surveillance and consultancy from its six campuses, labs and farms, veterinary investigation centres and local consultancy offices.

Prior to SRUC Professor Powell was Chief Science Officer at the CGIAR Consortium, an international partnership organisation focussing on agricultural research for development in areas such as cereals, agroforestry, livestock and climate change. He developed a research programme addressing the sustainable development agenda of healthy diets from sustainable food systems. This $1 billion programme involved 10,000 staff based in over 100 countries.

Professor Powell had previously spent six years as the Director of the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University. He was also Director of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) in Cambridge, as well as Deputy Director of the Scottish Crop Research Institute (now the James Hutton Institute).


University of St Andrews

Principal: Professor Sally Mapstone

Route into university

Sally attended her local grammar school in West London, and from there went up to Wadham College, Oxford – Wadham was one of the first Oxford colleges to become co-educational.


Academic specialism

Older Scots Literature

Concise career profile

Professor Sally Mapstone joined the University of St Andrews as Principal and Vice-Chancellor in September 2016. She had previously served as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Personnel and Equality at the University of Oxford.  She maintains a strong interest in issues both of access and of diversity within the HE sector.

Sally gained her BA and D.Phil. at Oxford. After completing her BA she worked for three years in London for the publisher Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and then went back to Oxford to do her Master’s and D.Phil, at Wadham and then at St Cross College. She first joined St Hilda’s College as a Junior Research Fellow, later a Professor of Older Scots Literature in the Faculty of English Language and Literature, and then stayed for a further 30 years at the college as Official Fellow. St Hilda’s was the last women’s college at Oxford to admit men.

She is an expert on the literature of Scotland before 1707, and has published widely on literature both in Scots and in Latin, on political literature, and on book history. Earlier in her career she worked as an editor in the book publishing industry.  She is Honorary President of the Scottish Text Society, an Honorary Fellow of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies, and a Fellow of the English Association.

Professor Mapstone also has a long-standing engagement in European issues and has served on the steering group for the League of European Research Universities community of Vice-Rectors for Teaching and Learning; she is a member of the international advisory board for the University of Helsinki.


Roles held at US

Professor Mapstone leads the admissions workstream of our work to deliver fair access.

University of Stirling

Principal: Professor Gerry McCormac

Route into university

First generation to attend university in his family.


Academic specialism

Space Physics, Carbon Dating, Climate Change.

Concise career profile

Professor McCormac became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling in May 2010. He is a scientist with research interests in both space physics and carbon dating.

His early career was spent at the University of Michigan, where he worked on the NASA Dynamics Explorer satellite program.  He subsequently headed up the high-precision carbon dating facility at Queen’s University Belfast. He became Pro-Vice Chancellor at Queen’s in 2001 to 2010, with responsibility for Academic and Financial Planning, Economic Development and External Affairs.

He is a former Vice-Convenor of Universities Scotland Funding Policy Group (FPG), a board member of UCEA, chairman of the UCEA Scottish Committee, and a Trustee of the Carnegie Trust.  He is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (FSA), the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and the Royal Society of Arts, Commerce and Manufacturers (FRSA). He chaired a review of teacher employment in Scotland for the Scottish Government in 2011. In 2015/16 he served as an advisor to the NI Government during the merger of departments that created the Department for the Economy (DfE).


Roles held at US

Vice-Convener of Universities Scotland.

University of Strathclyde

Principal: Professor Sir Jim McDonald

Route into university

Jim was the first in his family to attend University – with his father and brothers having worked in ship building and engineering trades.  His interest in engineering grew as a pupil in St Gerard’s School in Govan through inspiring Physics and Maths teachers. He joined Strathclyde as an EEE student in 1974 and took his first job in the utility industry in 1978.


Academic specialism

Electrical Power and Energy Systems

Concise career profile

Professor Sir Jim McDonald became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde in 2009. He became an academic in 1984 as a “New Blood Lecturer“and was appointed as Rolls-Royce Professor in 1993.

He co-chairs, with the First Minister, the Scottish Government’s Energy Advisory Board. He is Chairman of the Independent Glasgow Economic Leadership Board and the Board of the Glasgow Science Centre. He currently holds several senior business appointments: Independent Director of Scottish Power Energy Networks Holdings; Non-executive Director of the Weir Group; Non-executive Director of the UK Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult Board; and, Non-executive Director of the UK National Physical Laboratory.  In 2012 he was awarded a Knighthood for services to education, engineering and the economy.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Institute of Physics and the Institute for Energy.


University of the West of Scotland

Principal: Professor Craig Mahoney

Route into university

A chartered psychologist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and an internationally recognised sport psychologist Craig previously served as CEO at the Higher Education Academy and has long been fascinated by student differentiated learning and the field of higher education.


Academic specialism

Sport psychology.

Concise career profile

Professor Mahoney is in his third year as Principal and Vice-Chancellor at the University of the West of Scotland. Previously he served as CEO at the Higher Education Academy. A dynamic public advocate of higher education, Craig has a keen interest in differentiated student-centred learning, teaching excellence, internationalisation and research informed teaching. He is an ardent supporter of the use of e-learning; technology enhanced learning and open educational resources. A chartered psychologist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and an internationally recognised sport psychologist, Professor Mahoney has worked with high profile companies such as England Netball for seven years, English Premier League Referees for six years, The Lawn Tennis Association for six years, Irish Olympic Sailing for 20 years and is now a member of the Sport Scotland Board. He is also Professor of Higher Education Strategy at the University of Huddersfield.

University of West of Scotland

Roles held at US

Convener of the Learning and Teaching Committee.