Strategic advisory board

We work with some of the greatest minds in Higher Education to help us serve students best


Professor Colin Riordan

President and Vice-Chancellor at Cardiff University and Chair of Strategic advisory group

Professor Colin Riordan took up the post of President and Vice-Chancellor at Cardiff University on 1 September 2012. Previously he was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex, having been appointed in October 2007. He moved to Essex from Newcastle University, where he had been Pro Vice-Chancellor and Provost of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences since August 2005.

Professor Riordan taught English as a foreign language at Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg in Germany (1982-84) and was Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer in German at Swansea University (1986-1998).  He became Professor of German at Newcastle University in 1998, where he remained until his move to Essex in 2007.

Professor Riordan is Chair of The Conversation (UK), Vice-Chair of the Association of Commonwealth Universities and a Board member of the Edge Foundation.  He is a Fulbright Commissioner and chairs Universities UK’s Outward Student Mobility Advisory Board and the Welsh Higher Education Brussels Board.


Professor Riordan became Chair of the IDP Connect Strategic Advisory Group in March 2021.

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Saskia Loer Hansen

Aston University, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Engagement

Having joined Aston University in 2017, Saskia is currently the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) overseeing the University’s student support functions, business and civic engagement, international and marketing development, and alumni relations. Saskia previously worked as Pro-Vice-Chancellor International, managing the University’s internationalisation agenda, and has a global professional portfolio spanning universities from Australia to Scotland.

Headshot of Professor Stephanie Marshall

Professor Stephanie Marshall

Queen Mary University of London, Vice Principal (Education)

Professor Marshall is the Vice-Principal (Education) at Queen Mary University of London, a prestigious academic author and international public speaker. She has twice chaired the Norwegian Centres for Excellenz Initiative and, while presiding as Chief Executive Officer of the Higher Education Academy (HEA), established the HEA as a global leader in teaching excellence, transforming it into an internationally successful independent organisation.


Mark Leach

Wonkhe, Founder, CEO and Editor in Chief

Mark worked in policy, politics and public affairs in and around UK higher education and founded Wonkhe in 2011 while working as a jobbing policy wonk in the sector. Mark began full-time work on Wonkhe in mid-2014, growing it into a thriving business based in Central London. As CEO, Mark is responsible for running and developing Wonkhe and as Editor in Chief oversees Wonkhe’s editorial platforms.


Rachel Sandison

University of Glasgow, Vice Principal, External Relations

Rachel has responsibility for leading the University of Glasgow’s strategy for external engagement covering an integrated portfolio of Marketing; Student Recruitment; Admissions; International; Widening Access; and Development & Alumni Relations. Rachel is the University’s Universitas 21 network Senior Leader and the institutional lead for the University’s European network, The Guild, thereby supporting the activity of a global group of research-intensive universities. Rachel is a Chartered Marketer and is currently the Chair of the CASE Europe Marketing Institute whilst also contributing to several sector advisory boards both at home and overseas.


Dr. David Pilsbury

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International Development) at Coventry University

Responsible for all Coventry’s international activities including joint ventures, student recruitment, collaborative partnerships, curriculum internationalization and mobility. David heads a sector leading recruitment and global engagement agenda recognised by many awards including the Queen’s Award for Enterprise.  He holds a number of Board level positions including JISC, China-Britain Business Council and advisory positions including with EURIE, NARIC and Hainan Provincial Government.  Previously the founding CEO of the Worldwide Universities Network, HEFCE Head of Research Policy and Assistant Director R&D at Cambridge University Hospital.  He was a strategic consultant and investment banker after undertaking a D.Phil and research at Oxford University.


Professor Michael Arthur


Professor Michael Arthur is the former President and Provost of University College London. Prior to this, Professor Arthur was also Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds. He is a hepatologist with research interests in liver cell biology and was Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences in Southampton. Professor Arthur has a significant national and international profile. He was Chair of the Advisory Group for National Specialised Services (NHS) and a long-standing member of the Council of the Medical Research Council. He is currently Chair of the Russell Group EU Advisory Group and a Board Member of LERU (League of European Research Universities).


Professor Alan Speight

University of Aberdeen, Vice-Principal Student Recruitment

Professor Alan Speight was appointed Vice-Principal for Student Recruitment in November 2018 and is responsible for leading the development of the University’s Student Recruitment Strategy. Professor Speight’s previous appointments include his roles as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) at the University of Hull, and as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience) at Swansea University.  His experience includes membership of a number of external bodies including the UCAS Advisory Council, UUK International PVC Network, and as a Non-Executive Director and Board Member for the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.


Vivienne Stern

Director of Universities UK International (UUKi)

Vivienne is the Director of Universities UK International (UUKi) which represents UK universities around the world and works to enable them to flourish internationally.

Vivienne has over 20 years’ experience of working in higher education policy and politics at national and international level. Prior to her role in UUKi, Vivienne was Head of Political Affairs at Universities UK, and led the sector’s response to several major pieces of legislation relating to universities. Before that she worked for the Chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee, and as policy specialist working on topics including quality, student experience, innovation and university-business links.

She is a member of several Boards and advisory committees, including the Education Sector Advisory Group of the Department for Education /Department for International Trade; the Board of UKRI’s Fund for International Collaboration; the British Council’s Education Advisory Group. She is a graduate of the University of Cambridge, where she studied English Literature.​


Gary Davies

London Metropolitan University, Pro Vice-Chancellor Student Recruitment and Business Development

Gary joined London Metropolitan University in late 2018 with responsibility for recruitment, marketing, communications and collaborations. He has an MBA in Higher Education Management from the University of London and has worked in HE student recruitment for over 25 years at institutions across the capital, including London Guildhall University (a forerunner of London Met), Institute of Education UCL, London South Bank University and Roehampton University.

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Diana Beech

Chief Executive Officer at London Higher

Dr Diana Beech currently works as CEO of London Higher: the umbrella organisation representing 40 London universities and higher education colleges. She previously worked as Head of Government Affairs at the University of Warwick. Prior to this, she was Policy Adviser to three Universities Ministers under the Theresa May and Boris Johnson governments and was the first Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI). Diana has published reports on the TEF, future demand for higher education, free speech and widening access. Diana holds a PhD in German Studies from the University of Cambridge and has been an early career academic in Canada, Germany and the UK.


Kieron Broadhead

Executive Director of Student Experience, The University of Southampton

Kieron Broadhead is the Executive Director of Student Experience at the University of Southampton. In this role he has responsibility for leading and delivering the student experience and recruitment strategies for the university. He is responsible for leadership of all of the non-academic student facing provision across the university, including student recruitment and international relations, student and academic services, libraries and arts and widening participation. Prior to joining the University of Southampton Kieron was the Director of Student Experience & Academic Registrar at Goldsmiths, University of London.