Julia Buckingham, vice-chancellor of Brunel University London, has been elected the next president of Universities UK.
She will succeed Dame Janet Beer, the University of Liverpool’s vice-chancellor, from 1 August 2019, becoming the third successive woman to hold the post – which, until 2015, had only ever been held by men. Presidents of UUK – one of two representative groups for the sector alongside GuildHE, with a key remit to represent universities in talks with the government – serve for two years. Presidents are elected by member vice-chancellors.
Professor Buckingham will take the post at a key time for English universities in particular – as the government could be forming or finalising its response to the post-18 education review report in late summer.
Professor Buckingham has been vice-chancellor of Brunel since 2012, previously holding senior leadership positions at Imperial College London and Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School, and has served on the UUK board since 2014.
As an undergraduate, she read read zoology at the University of Sheffield, worked briefly in the pharmaceutical industry, then studied for a PhD in pharmacology at the University of London.
Alistair Jarvis, UUK chief executive, said: “Julia is widely respected across the sector as a successful leader and effective champion of gender equality, research and student mental health issues. The experience and expertise she brings from a background which combines industry and academia will be invaluable as she leads our university sector.”
Professor Buckingham said: “In the current climate of uncertainty and unprecedented change, universities – whatever their specialism, mission or geography – are in a position to make a huge difference to the country, to the economy and to individuals’ lives.
“We are at the centre of the most important issues: educating the workforce and addressing the skills gap; strengthening our research base and driving innovation and entrepreneurism.
“We are a force for good, tackling issues right at the heart of our society such as social mobility, inclusivity, mental health and well-being; and ensuring that UK higher education remains at the forefront globally.”