The new chief executive of Universities UK is Nicola Dandridge.
Ms Dandridge, currently chief executive of the Equality Challenge Unit, will join the vice-chancellors’ umbrella body on 1 September 2009, replacing Diana Warwick, who leaves at the end of August after 14 years as chief executive.
A former City lawyer, Ms Dandridge has been head of the ECU since 2006 and was formerly a partner and head of equality at Thompsons Solicitors.
In a brief statement, she said: “I am very much looking forward to leading the organisation through what will undoubtedly be challenging and exciting times.
“UUK plays a vital role in the higher education sector and it will be a privilege to play a part in contributing to the outstanding work of higher education institutions throughout the UK.”
First on her agenda will be representing the sector amid controversial reforms to the machinery of Whitehall, under which the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills has been merged with Lord Mandelson’s business department to form a new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
A new framework on the longer term future of UK higher education is also due in summer, before the much-anticipated review of student tuition fees later this year.
UUK president Rick Trainor said that the search for a chief executive “has been far-reaching and highly competitive” and that Ms Dandridge, a University of Oxford classics graduate, was well placed to lead UUK through “this challenging economic climate”.