New team take office to lead University Alliance.

The new leadership team for University Alliance, the mission group for technical and professional universities, will take up their roles this week, following their election earlier this year. The new Chair, Deputy Chair and Treasurer will lead the organisation for three years.

Professor Debra Humphris, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Brighton, has been elected Chair, taking over the role from Professor John Latham, Vice-Chancellor of Coventry University. Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes will serve as Deputy Chair, and Professor Steven Spier, Vice-Chancellor of Kingston University joins the team as Treasurer.

The newly elected group takes office as University Alliance launches its new vision, mission and strategy, championing the role of technical and professional universities to unlock potential and effect change for individuals, communities, the public sector, and the country as a whole. Over the coming year, University Alliance will prioritise delivering for the professional needs of the future, including meeting NHS workforce challenges, and promoting the importance of the creative industries.

The focus on healthcare is of personal interest to Prof. Humphris, who undertook a professional qualification in nursing at the start of her career. Prof. Humphris later progressed through academia to the role of Vice-Chancellor but remains a passionate advocate for the value of professional qualifications and the role of Alliance institutions in delivering vital skills to the NHS workforce.


Chair of University Alliance Professor Humphris said:

 “In a period of unprecedented uncertainty for the UK and for the Higher Education sector it is important that the voices and perspectives of all of its universities are heard and valued. There are many issues, ranging from workforce development, to the importance of the creative industries and the impact of community partnerships, on which University Alliance members have a distinctive contribution to make. I and the new leadership team will be working hard to make sure these contributions are heard and understood.”

The team will work alongside Vanessa Wilson, Chief Executive of UA to implement the strategic plan and further UA member interests.


Speaking of the elections, Vanessa said:

“I am enormously grateful to former Chair and Deputy Chair Professor John Latham and Professor Julie Lydon whose terms of office came to an end on 31st August for their support and leadership as I took on this new CEO role.

I would like to welcome Debra, Alistair and Steven to their new roles. Their commitment and counsel will be key to ensuring the success of the new vision, mission and strategy of University Alliance. I am pleased to have them at the helm as we embark on this new chapter with a renewed ambition to champion the role of technical and professional universities.

Alliance institutions deliver real assets relevant to the needs of today and tomorrow, developing the future workforce and solving the problems facing society locally, nationally and around the world. At this critical time for Higher Education, and the delivery of the Industrial Skills strategy post-Brexit, the success of Alliance Universities is therefore more crucial than ever.”


Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University and deputy chair said:

“I’m delighted to take up this role with the University Alliance. Alliance institutions are at the forefront of technical and professional education in UK universities, helping to build tomorrow’s workforce whilst driving innovation and growth. I look forward to working with the new leadership team in support of the Alliance universities and the transformative effect they have on our cities, regions and communities.”


Professor Steven Spier, Vice-Chancellor of Kingston University and group treasurer, said:

“University Alliance gives a voice to a crucial part of the higher education sector. Member institutions are educating the country’s engineers, architects, nurses, and teachers, to name but a few, in research rich environments, providing them with professional and vocational skills integral to our society and economy. The Alliance plays a key role in championing such values as social mobility – all too often overlooked or not given sufficient importance across other parts of the sector. Providing graduates with the knowledge and skills to thrive once they complete their degrees must be a key focus for the sector, ensuring all students have equal opportunities to succeed, irrespective of their start in life.”

For more information contact Beth Button, Head of Communication and Public Affairs, on 07756155056

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