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Principal, Professor, President: Sally Mapstone Elected President of Universities UK

Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Sally Mapstone FRSE, has won the election to become the next President of Universities UK, adding another role to her proverbial belt.


Universities UK is the representative body of 140 universities in the country which shapes government policy on conditions that support universities. The collective also advocates for the British higher education sector overseas.


Professor Mapstone was elected through a ballot of the 140 members and will run a two-year term beginning in the summer. The role will involve chairing all meetings and re-election in July 2025 will only be possible by special resolution.


Within Universities UK are the smaller branches, Universities Wales and Universities Scotland, of which Professor Mapstone is the current Convener. In this role, Professor Mapstone has campaigned against cuts to research funding by the Scottish Government.


Earlier this year, MSPs celebrated the contribution of universities, such as the University of St Andrews, to the transformation of the Scottish economy. Speaking at the event in the Scottish Parliament, Professor Mapstone said universities are uniquely placed to accelerate the sustainable economic transformation of Scotland.


In regards to her election as President of Universities UK, Professor Mapstone said she was “honoured”. Professor Mapstone said, “The UK higher education sector is outstanding for its inventiveness and its creativity as well as its resilience, and my job will be to harness those characteristics in representing and advocating for all our universities.


“Universities at their most essential level exist to find and bring out the best in people; representing the sector means representing the remarkable staff and students who make the UK sector the envy of the world. Setting and taking forward a compelling agenda for how higher education is seen, overseen, funded, and resourced must dominate [Universities UK’s] strategic approach, in parallel with extensive efforts to convey the dynamism and potential of the sector’s extensive contributions to the economy, science, the arts, and entrepreneurialism.”


As of now, Professor Mapstone is a member of the board of UCAS, Vice-Chair of the board of the Carnegie Trust for Universities of Scotland, a member of the Higher Education Policy Institute advisory board, Chair of Universities Scotland’s Admissions Policy Group, and a trustee of the Europaeum – a network of eighteen universities in Europe – and of course, a key member for Universities UK.


Before Professor Mapstone became so heavily decorated, she studied English Language and Literature at Wadham College, Oxford, graduating with first-class honours in 1978. In a brief interlude to academic studies, she worked as an editor at Weidenfeld and Nicolson publishing house. She returned to Oxford and undertook her DPhil for a thesis on the advice to princes tradition in Older Scots Literature.

Unless Professor Mapstone cites burn-out, it is expected that she will continue to be recognised as a leader in the higher education sector.




Photo: Universities Scotland


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