Universities Scotland announce new elected leadership team

Universities Scotland is delighted to announce that Professor Sally Mapstone has been elected to the role of Convener for a period of two years, from 1 August 2022 to 31 July 2024. Sir Paul Grice will take up the role of Vice Convener for the same period.

Universities Scotland represents all 19 of Scotland’s higher education institutions. Professor Sally Mapstone is Principal & Vice Chancellor at the University of St Andrews and Sir Paul Grice is Principal and Vice Chancellor of Queen Margaret University Edinburgh. Both were elected to the role by their fellow Principals. Professor Mapstone succeeds Professor Sir Gerry McCormac, who has held the role of Convener since August 2020.

Professor Mapstone is currently the Vice Convener of Universities Scotland, a role she has held since 2020. Professor Mapstone also serves as a board member of Universities UK, is Vice-Chair of the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, a trustee of UCAS, is the current Chair of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) Board, Chair of Universities Scotland’s Admissions Policy Group, a trustee of the Europaeum and President of the Saltire Society.

Commenting on her appointment, Professor Mapstone said:

“It is an honour to be elected Convener. Without question the next two years will be pivotal for Scotland. Universities are working to support our students to move forward from the many impacts of the pandemic while also powering Scotland’s wider social and economic recovery. Our research supports innovation, new skill sets, and creativity, from drug discovery to the performing arts. Our activities will generate, new and sustainable jobs and address global challenges. We aim high but stay grounded in a commitment to inclusive and accountable higher education.

“The diversity of our higher education sector is a major asset for Scotland. I fundamentally believe that Scotland needs world-class universities that each have a distinctive contribution to make to an outward-looking, internationally-connected nation where everyone has the opportunity to realise their potential.”

Professor Mapstone takes over as Convener from Professor Sir Gerry McCormac, Principal at the University of Stirling, who has been Convener since August 2020.

Paying credit to Professor McCormac’s tenure as Convener, Professor Mapstone said:

“Gerry has had an inordinately challenging period as Convener and has navigated the sector through the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic and the disruption to teaching and research. I have valued his leadership, collegiality and warmth.”

Sir Paul Grice has been elected Vice Convener and serves for the same two-year period as the Convener. Sir Paul has been Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Queen Margaret University since 2019. He is the former Clerk and Chief Executive of the Scottish Parliament. Sir Paul served as a member of the University Court of Stirling from 2006-2013 and as a member of the Economic and Social Research Council from 2009-2015. A fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, he is also a Policy Leaders Fellow at the Centre for Science and Policy at the University of Cambridge and is a board member of Policy Scotland at the University of Glasgow.

Sir Paul said:

“I am immensely proud to be elected by my fellow Principals as Vice Convener of Universities Scotland. Universities are engines of prosperity, change and social justice with strong track records.  Scotland is one of the best higher education sectors in the world and our aim as a group of university leaders is to ensure we can be number one in the world.”

Universities Scotland can also confirm that the following Principals have been elected as Committee Conveners and will therefore have a leadership role in driving policy and advocacy on behalf of the sector for a two-year period from August 2022.


  • Professor Andrea Nolan, Principal of Edinburgh Napier University: International Committee
  • Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal of University of Edinburgh: Lead Member for Health

Newly elected:

  • Professor George Boyne, Principal of University of Aberdeen: Funding Policy Group
  • Professor Steve Olivier, Principal of Robert Gordon University: Learning & Teaching Committee
  • Professor Iain Gillespie, Principal of University of Dundee: Research & Knowledge Exchange Committee