Who We Represent

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

University of Aberdeen

Principal: Professor Sir Ian Diamond

Route into university

Ian was the first person from his family ever to attend university and was helped to go to the London School of Economics by inspirational teachers at Torquay Boys’ Grammar School.

Sir-Ian-Diamond Aberdeen

Academic specialism

Social Statistician

Concise career profile

Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen since 1 April 2010, Sir Ian was previously Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council. He was also Chair of the Research Councils UK Executive Group (2004-2009) the umbrella body that represents all seven UK Research Councils. Before joining the ESRC, Sir Ian was Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Southampton, where he had been for most of his career.

Sir Ian is Chair of British Universities and Colleges Sport, Chair of the Universities UK Research Policy Network Committee, Chair of the Universities UK Group on Efficiency and Chair of the Higher Education Funding Review for Wales. Sir Ian was Knighted in the New Year’s Honours 2013.


Roles held at US

Currently convenes the Funding Policy Group and our Efficiency Taskforce. Former Convener of the International Committee.

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 Sir Pete Downes

Route into university

Pete was the first in his family to go to university and did so as a mature student after first working in the pharmaceutical industry.

prof sir peter dowes dundee

Academic specialism


Concise career profile

Professor Sir Pete Downes has been Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee since 2009.

Under his leadership the University has consistently been rated best in Scotland for student experience by Times Higher Education and has achieved record levels of research funding. He has led the development of the University’s Transformation agenda, with the goal of becoming Scotland’s leading University, helping transform lives locally, nationally and globally and delivering economic, social and cultural impact.

Sir Pete is one of the UK’s leading biochemists. He spent eleven years in the pharmaceutical industry before joining the University in 1989. Before his appointment as Principal he served as Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Life Sciences. He has played a key role in establishing Dundee as a global leader in life sciences, making a significant impact on both the Scottish economy and our understanding and treatment of major diseases including diabetes and cancer.

He was a co-founder of the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy (DSTT) at Dundee, a partnership between the University and several of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. The DSTT was founded in 1998 and has attracted over £50 million of inward investment to the city. It is widely regarded as a model for how academia and industry can interact productively and was awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education in 2006.

Sir Pete was awarded the Colworth Medal of the British Biochemical Society in 1987 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1991 and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2009. He was honoured by the Queen with an OBE in 2004 and a Knighthood in 2015.

He is a member of the Council of the Society of Biology, the National Centre for Universities and Business, the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, Chairman of the Advisory Board of Interface, a Trustee of the Saltire Foundation, and a board member of Design Dundee Ltd, which is delivering the V&A Museum of Design to Dundee

A4_UoD_LOGO CMYK@100% @300dpi

Roles held at US

Current lead on health policy. Former Convener. Formerly Convener of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee.

University of Edinburgh

Principal: Professor Sir Tim O'Shea

Route into university

Tim was interested in computing and mathematics at school. He was interviewed for mathematics at Sussex University, being asked to solve geometric topology problems, and then offered an unconditional place. He is the first generation in the family to complete secondary school.


Academic specialism

Computing and Artificial Intelligence.

Concise career profile

Born in Hamburg Tim O’Shea was educated in Essex and holds a BSc in Mathematics and Experimental Psychology from Sussex University and a PhD in Computer Based Learning from University of Leeds.

Tim worked as a researcher in the Computer Science Department of the University of Texas at Austin, the Bionics Research Lab at the University of Edinburgh and the Systems Concepts Lab, Xerox PARC, California. In 1978 he founded the Computers and Learning Research Group at the Open University and was promoted to a personal chair in Information Technology and Education in 1986. He was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Open University in 1993.

In 1997 he was elected Master of Birkbeck and subsequently appointed Provost of Gresham College and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of London. He held all three posts concurrently until he returned to Edinburgh as Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University in October 2002.

His academic output, produced mainly in collaboration with others and on topics relating to computer based learning, artificial intelligence, and mathematics education, includes 10 books, 22 BBC television programmes and over 100 journal articles.

In 2014 Debrett’s, in association with the Sunday Times, named the top 500 most influential people in the UK and listed Tim in the top 30 in Technology.


Roles held at US

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

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

Director: Professor Tom Inns

Route into university

Tom left school and worked for Rolls-Royce for a year before his UCAS form took him to the University of Bristol to study Engineering. His creative curiosity then took him to the mind expanding world of Art School to study design at the Royal College of Art.


Academic specialism


Concise career profile

Tom Inns is the Director of the Glasgow School of Art (GSA), Scotland’s Specialist Institution for Art, Design and Architecture. With campuses in Glasgow, the Highlands & Islands and Singapore, GSA aims to be a global leader in studio-based teaching and research in art, design, architecture and digital visualisation and simulation.

Tom studied Engineering at the University of Bristol and Design at the Royal College of Art. In 1990 he co-founded the Design Research Centre at Brunel University, becoming Director in 1996. His PhD explored the impact of design on innovation in small companies.

In 2000 he moved to the University of Dundee becoming Head of Design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (DJCAD) and then Dean. Between 2005-2010 he was Programme Director for the AHRC/EPSRC funded Designing for the 21st Century Initiative. Tom has an active interest in how strategic design can apply principles of traditional design to society’s systemic challenges. He regularly designs and facilitates knowledge sharing workshops with innovation agencies across Europe working with organisations such as NESTA, UK Design Council, ARDI Rhone Alps, UKERC, Swedish Industrial Design Foundation, South West Screen, PopVox, VINNOVA and Guimaraes 2012.

In September 2014, Tom was appointed as Member of the Arts & Humanities Research Council‘s governing body, the Council.


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.


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 Ferdinand von Prondzynski

Route into university

Ferdinand joined Dresdner Bank AG after leaving school, but two years later decided to study law in Trinity College Dublin. Intending at the time to go into legal practice, he developed a passion for teaching and research and stayed in the university system.

Ferdinand-von-Prondzynski-Robert-Gordon- RGU

Academic specialism

Employment law

Concise career profile

Born in Germany, Professor von Prondzynski has lived in both Germany and Ireland, becoming an Irish citizen in 1976. He graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, with a BA and an LLB in 1978, and attained a PhD in Law from the University of Cambridge in 1983. He began his academic career in 1980 and became an internationally known authority on industrial relations, employment law, discrimination law and competition law. He was first a Lecturer in the School of Business Studies at Trinity College, Dublin, becoming a Fellow in 1987. A move to the University of Hull in 1991 saw him take up posts as Professor of Law, Dean of the Law School, the Jean Monnet Professor of European Social Law and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. He left Hull in 2000 to take up the post of President of Dublin City University.

During his time at DCU, Professor von Prondzynski led a number of strategic developments including a significant growth of research income, major campus investment and development, and positioning DCU as a major contributor to Ireland’s knowledge economy and society.

Ferdinand became well known for his review of university governance in Scotland, and for his championing of urban regeneration in Aberdeen and the development of an innovation agenda in North-East Scotland.


Roles held at US

Vice Convener of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee.

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.