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Employment History

January 2003 Became Director of Critical Thinking, Deirdre Macleod having formed a separate company.
July 2000 Established own company - Critical Thinking - providing policy analysis and advice - in partnership with Deirdre Macleod.
May 1998 - June 2000 Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals (now known as Universities Scotland)
Representative body for all Scotland's universities and colleges of higher education, 9 staff, based Edinburgh.

Post: Deputy Director

Reporting to Director and elected Convener and committee chairs, usually Principals of Scottish higher education institutions. Identifying issues and leading policy analysis, development and strategy across all areas of interest to universities and colleges. Representing COSHEP and its policies to external organisations, public meetings and in written and broadcast media.


  • Devised and directed campaign to safeguard higher education funding in face of tuition fee abolition, in highly politically-charged environment;
  • Developed, managed and implemented new Parliamentary and public relations strategy; and
  • Successfully raised awareness amongst target MSPs of higher education's existing and potential role in the Scottish economy.

Oct 1997 - May 1998 Scottish Higher Education Funding Council
Body funding Scotland's universities and colleges of higher education on behalf of government, £550M budget, 60 staff, based Edinburgh.

Post: Deputy Director, Corporate Strategy and Planning

Reporting to and deputising for Director of Finance and Central Services. Responsible for two branches comprising 13 staff and devolved budgets of £77k.


  • Led Council consideration of merger of Edinburgh University with Moray House institute and Heriot Watt University with Scottish College of Textiles. Successfully completed to deadlines;
  • Oversaw process revising Council's mission statement and corporate plan; and
  • Led consideration of applications and allocations of funding under Strategic Change Grant Initiative worth £12M per annum.

June 1996 - Aug 1997 National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education
Government-established independent inquiry into the purposes and funding of higher education in the UK under Sir (now Lord) Ron Dearing - the ‘Dearing Committee', 18 staff, based London.

Post: Policy Adviser (temporary secondment)

Secretary to Scottish Standing Committee chaired by Sir Ron Garrick, and Information Technology Working Group, chaired by Professor (now Sir) John Arbuthnott. Directing team of staff affording policy analysis and advice to National Committee and these two groups. Commissioning evidence from expert sources; consulting stakeholders, drafting chapters to tight deadlines, liaison with government departments, briefing Ministers.


  • Drafted Report of Scottish Standing Committee which now forms basis of Scottish higher education policy;
  • Ensured Scottish policy issues accurately and appropriately covered in report of National Committee; and
  • Led successful mission to USA to investigate uses of IT in higher education.

Sept 1992 - June 1996 Scottish Higher Education Funding Council
(as above)

Post: Head of Academic Policy

Heading and managing Academic Policy branch comprising four other staff. Implementation, monitoring and evaluation of initiatives in pursuit of Council's objectives. Provision of policy advice to Council, committees and advisory groups on all aspects of learning and teaching in higher education.


  • Devised and implemented initiatives worth £14M to improve access to higher education and promote good practice in learning and teaching; and
  • Drafted Irvine Report on reform of academic year.

Feb 1992 - Sept 1992 Committee of Directors of Polytechnics
Representative body for 30 UK polytechnic institutions of higher education, 15 staff, based London

Post: Policy Officer (fixed term)

Providing policy advice and support to CDP main committee and a range of working groups during period when polytechnics campaigning to use university title. Lead responsibility for student issues, research funding and institutional mergers.


  • Supported chief executive in negotiations over merger with the universities' representative body; and
  • Led establishment of student issues working group to consider consumer-oriented approaches to higher education and engage with Government policies on ‘charters'.

Sept 1990 - Feb 1992 London Borough of Brent
Local authority Continuing Education and Training Department, 5 staff, based London

Post: Principal Research Officer

Monitoring, analysing and advising on further education and training issues. Policy development and preparation of submissions in response to government and other organisations.


  • Led on producing Borough's post-16 Strategic Plan which elicited £1M from the North-West London Training and Enterprise Council; and
  • Persuaded new, hostile, political administration of need to preserve and enhance funding for access courses.

Sept 1987 - Sept 1990 research and policy work with National Union of Students Scotland and National Union of Students UK
Sept 1985 - Sept 1987 researcher for Scottish Mining Museum
July 1984 - Sept 1985 various temporary administrative and clerical jobs including with Lothian Regional Council and Scottish Special Housing Association.

Education and Qulifications

1994-97 University of Edinburgh (part-time)
MSc in Social and Public Policy (distinction)
1980-84 University of Aberdeen (full time)
MA (Hons) Politics/Economic History 2(ii)

Personal Details

Date of birth: 16 August 1962
Other skills: Full, clean, UK driving licence


Interests include: reading, modern architecture and design, following football and professional cycling, amateur astronomy, going to the gym, travel