Appointment of the Chair of the University Court September 2020

Appointment of the Chair of the University Court - September 2020

Role Specification and Appointment Particulars

About Queen Margaret University

Queen Margaret University can trace its origins back to the foundation in 1875 of the Edinburgh School of Cookery, an institution that operated throughout mainland Britain, pioneering the training of teachers in nutrition, public health and domestic science.

We have a proud history of achievement and progress extending for well over a century, and continue to be driven by the highest ideals and purposes, focusing on contributing in practical ways to improving people’s lives and serving the community. In 2025, we will celebrate the 150th anniversary of our foundation, and whilst much has changed during the intervening years, our unerring commitment to social justice remains steadfast.

Today, our vision is to be a university of ideas and influence. Our focus on relevance - through our teaching, learning,and research and knowledge exchange work - ensures that we are responsive to the changing needs of society.

We aim to provide a transformative learning experience for our students, enabling them to achieve their individual goals and contribute to society. We seek to provide the optimal balance of theoretical and practical education.

We are dedicated to improving the quality of life and building the evidence base for policy and practice through our research and knowledge exchange (KE). We are recognised internationally for our high quality and relevant research, which informs practice and policy, and we measure its value by its impact and social usefulness.

Through our teaching and research, we enable people to heal, nurture, care and communicate. We inspire people to build businesses, find solutions to real life issues and to improve communities. We foster creativity and artistic expression, building social capital. Our graduates and staff can found in influential roles across the world, influencing policy and enhancing society, culture and the economy.

Renowned for relevant research and knowledge exchange work, we have widely recognised expertise in health & rehabilitation, sustainable business, and creativity & culture, and emerging strengths in areas such as food and drink.

You can view our Strategic Report and Annual accounts 2019 here:[broken link ]

We are ambitious and enterprising, adopting a flexible and agile approach to new opportunities, alongside retaining our personal approach, giving care and respect to our students, staff and partners.[broken link ]

  • Top Scottish ‘post ‘92’ university in the Complete • 35 graduate start-ups through our Business Innovation University Guide 2019 Zone
  • QMU is worth £77 million to the economy • With 97.1% of graduates entering employment or
  • 1st Scottish university to host a Business Gateway on campus
  • Awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for our work in speech science
  • 35 graduate start-ups through our Business Innovation University Guide 2019 Zone
  • With 97.1% of graduates entering employment or further study, we are 3rd in Scotland for employment of undergraduate leavers, exceeding the sector average by 2.5% (HESA 2018).

Our Students

We have a diverse body of 7,600 students, including nearly 2,500 studying with our partners overseas. Through collaborative agreements, students are studying for our degrees in India, Nepal, Greece, Singapore and Egypt.

Our students hail from over 90 countries and study across a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes offered in the School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management (ASSaM) and the School of Health Sciences. We also offer doctoral level studies through our Graduate School.

We offer students a transformative learning experience, providing the optimum balance of theoretical and practical education in a friendly and supportive environment. We provide them with a sense of belonging and enable them to achieve their individual goals and to contribute to society, whilst preparing them for successful careers. We will build on our existing success in widening participation to ensure that we fulfil people’s potential, whatever their background.

Our Flagships

We have flagship areas of expertise in health and rehabilitation, sustainable business and creativity and culture. In line with our teaching, research and knowledge exchange work, the outputs of our flagship areas are designed to be thoroughly relevant to society’s needs.

Work within our flagship areas tackles issues ranging from developing a more person-centred approach to care delivery, to the development of healthcare systems across the world; from providing dialogue tools which allow marginalised groups to have their voices heard, to giving people their voice more literally through innovations in speech therapy; and from improving eye witness testimony, enhancing child wellbeing to promoting growth in Scotland’s family enterprises.

Health & Rehabilitation

This flagship area is underpinned by our portfolio of health programmes. We have the widest range of allied health professional programmes of any university in Scotland. Our adult nurse programme is consistently ranked in the top four in the National Student Survey (NSS) and in the Times/Sunday Times and Guardian League tables. Community healthcare is a strength across all programmes, and particularly in Nursing. We aim to grow our offer in this area with a view to becoming an integrated health community.

We have capitalised on our broad range of health courses to become leaders in inter-professional education, This ensures that our teaching and research reaches beyond the limits of any one profession, providing fresh insights and helping to ensure that healthcare professionals from different areas understand self and their role in a team, whilst learning to work together to provide positive consequences for patient care.

Our research is focused on the person, policy and practice, and therefore has an immediate practical impact on service delivery and health care provision.

Our work has a global reach. One example is our Institute for Global Health and Development (IGHD) which is a multi- disciplinary centre for research and postgraduate education that addresses contemporary health and development challenges in low and middle income countries and their connection to global systems and trends. Another is our work in international nurse education and research, which sees us develop nursing faculty academic staff in overseas colleges and universities in Egypt, Greece and Singapore.

Our knowledge exchange group in Food Development and Innovation is gaining reputation in sensory tasting and new product development.

Research and knowledge exchange centres relevant to the area of health and rehabilitation are:

  • Clinical Audiology, Speech and Language Research Centre;

  • Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research;

  • Centre for Person-centred Practice Research;

  • Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation;

  • Institute for Global Health and Development.

Sustainable Business

Our vision in the Queen Margaret Business School is to inspire moral, ethical, and sustainable practices in management. In addition to our flexible routes in Business Management, including our recently launched Graduate Apprenticeships, we offer internationally recognised programmes in hospitality and tourism, with students on our programmes in various countries across the world.

We are innovators in events management and in gastronomy, and have launched new provision in areas of finance, accounting and marketing. Our research and knowledge exchange is informed by our view of ethical approaches to business, incorporating financial, social and environmental sustainability.

Our particular areas of expertise are reflected in our knowledge exchange centres and research groups:

  • Consumer Dispute Resolution Centre;
  • Gastronomy, Events, Tourism and Hospitality Group;
  • Family and Smaller Enterprise Research Group.

Creativity & Culture

Long recognised for our work in creativity and culture, we bring together film, media, public relations, communication and performing arts students in one academic school to maximise opportunities for inter-disciplinary work. This flagship area also encompasses psychology and sociology, including our recently launched MSc in Public Sociology.

We are well known for our performing arts programmes. In these programmes, our approach is to challenge conventional assumptions, to encourage our students to embrace a variety of aesthetic practices and to build collaborative partnerships that will feed the industry of tomorrow.

We have expertise in cultural arts management and produce graduates who go on to make a real impact in the cultural sector. We undertake research into cultural policy, and are a leading provider of education in public relations, with a particular expertise in dialogue.

Our social science degree programmes maintain a strong academic and disciplinary base, whilst offering contemporary applications and socially engaged, applied content. We are socially engaged and community-facing, providing a highly regarded, collaborative teaching and research environment.

Research and knowledge exchange centres and groups relevant to the area of creativity and culture:

  • Centre for Applied Social Sciences;
  • Centre for Dialogue and Public Engagement;
  • Centre for Communication, Cultural and Media Studies;
  • Memory Research Group.
  • Portfolio Growth: Initial Teacher Education

In 2018, we were delighted to be selected by the Scottish Government to deliver a new suite of initial teacher education programmes. Delivery of these programmes, and the development of a new generation of teachers, builds on our enduring commitment to making a real difference in the world, today and for future generations.

Our programmes offer a fresh approach to teaching - one grounded in practice and a robust foundation of social sciences. Our BA (Hons) Education Studies (Primary) provides a professional qualification to teach in primary schools, while our BA (Hons) Education Studies is a broad-based social sciences degree, with an emphasis on education. Our undergraduate offering is complemented by the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) Secondary (Home Economics).

These new programmes have been designed to meet the challenges, as well as recognise the rewards, of teaching children and young people in the 21st century. The curriculum will actively engage students in contemporary issues in psychology and sociology, and develop in them a sound knowledge base of children’s developmental pathways. This will include exploration of the range of factors that affect pupils, including, for example, the impact of poverty and deprivation in early years. Students will learn also about global health and learning inequality, the impact of adversities, such as homelessness, neglect and migration, and the importance of creativity and the natural environment for our wellbeing.

Governance and Executive Structure

The Court is the governing body of Queen Margaret University. Awarded University title in 2007, the University is a company limited by guarantee and a charity registered with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. Court members are consequently Directors and also Charitable Trustees.

The Court is responsible for carrying out the objectives of the University, ensuring the financial sustainability of the University and approving the strategic plan. An important aspect of the Court’s work is establishing and monitoring systems of control and accountability, including financial control, and reviewing the performance of the University. The Court approves the mission and strategic vision of the University, its long-term business plans, key performance indicators (KPIs) and annual budgets, and ensures that these meet the needs of stakeholders.

The development in Scotland of Outcome Agreements between HEIs and the Scottish Funding Council has added a further layer of reporting and accountability for the Court in terms of the achievement of particular outcomes in widening access, articulation and research and innovation. We have endeavoured to ensure that our Outcome Agreement reflects and, where appropriate, builds upon objectives set out in our Strategic Plan and sub-strategies. Scottish Funding Council 

The Court also appoints the Principal of the University and has in place arrangements for monitoring their performance.

The Court is supported by a number of committees including the Finance & Estates Committee, Audit and Risk Committee, Nominations Committee and Senior Management Remuneration Committee. The Health and Safety Committee and the Equality and Diversity Committee also report to Court.

The Court delegates responsibility to the Senate for the academic work of the University and the conferring of degrees and other awards.

Operational management is delegated to the University’s management team under the leadership of the Principal and Vice Chancellor. You can view more details of the current management team here:QMU Principal and Vice Chancellor web page 

Our commitment to students

Students at Queen Margaret benefit from our friendly and supportive staff, a purpose-built, innovative campus with a dedicated Learning Resource Centre, and a range of career-enhancing extracurricular opportunities. We are committed to continuous enhancement of our teaching methods, from work-based learning to an online virtual learning environment.

National Student Survey (NSS) 2020 results show that 83% of our students are satisfied with the quality of their course.

The University and the Students’ Union work together to promote the essential role that student engagement plays in enhancing the quality of learning and teaching and more broadly the student experience. We are committed to involving students in decision making processes and making sure that they have the best possible experience while studying with us. We work closely together to ensure that students are represented on all relevant University committees and are supported and trained to fulfil their roles.

The University’s framework for institution-led quality review is available on the University’s Quality website at:QMU Quality Webpage 

We were pleased to achieve an ‘Effective’ judgement in our Enhancement Led Institutional Review Assessment in 2017-18 (Report April 2018). We were particularly pleased to be commended on our partnership with our student body, and on our Widening Participation strategy. The report comments that our ‘holistic and student-centred approach to widening participation represents excellent practice. Students are supported at each stage of their learner journey and the University’s commitment both to widening participation and ensuring students succeed is demonstrated through the broad range of outreach activities it has in place. These include hosting the Children’s University and working with schools, colleges community groups, the third sector and voluntary agencies’. We are commended also on our approach to Employability, and the ‘extent to which programmes and staff are focused on preparing students for employment including providing work-related learning experiences such as placements, live projects and community engagement, as well as staff helping students to reflect and describe the personal and professional skills they are developing’.

We are in the top three higher education institutions in Scotland for employment of undergraduate leavers, with 97.1% of our undergraduate leavers in employment or further study six months after graduation (HESA, 2018).

We have also developed a reputation for supporting entrepreneurialism, and offer a range of pathways to connect communities through enterprise start-up activities, business support and social innovation. Our on-campus Business Gateway and Business Innovation Zone provide a focus for our enterprise creation activities, providing free start-up advice and business support to students and graduates of the University who have an idea and may be interested in starting a company. We continue to develop incubation services for the creation of graduate start-ups and support for innovation in local companies, recognising the increasing role of the University as a catalyst for regional innovation-led economic growth.

Research & Knowledge Exchange

As an institution of ideas and influence, we create and share knowledge that reaches and impacts a broad range of regional and international stakeholders. We work at the intersection of conventional disciplinary groupings to create innovative approaches to contemporary societal challenges and public discourse, and to identify entrepreneurial opportunities both locally and internationally. We have developed a reputation for working with business and commerce undertaking research contracts, consultancy, and providing training courses tailored to client needs.

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), over 58% of the University’s overall research was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent. Amongst the highlights was our success in Speech and Language Sciences, with 92% of our research in this field classed as internationally excellent or world leading. The Times Higher Education singled us out as a ‘notable riser’ in terms of REF performance.

The value of our work is measured by its impact and the social usefulness, practicality and applicability of its outcomes. Queen Margaret University is committed to the application of translational research to influence public discourse beyond academia, including policy makers, industry, public sector, voluntary and community sectors, and the wider public. We play a key role in thought leadership on economic and societal impact, how it is measured and how it should be used. From fostering long-term practice and innovation in the public or private sector; understanding the potential of expertise and evidence; or identifying a route to a more sustainable trajectory, many of today’s most pressing problems require the kind of interdisciplinary research for which QMU is widely recognised as an international leader.

You can read case studies of our impact here:[ broken link ]

Excellent progress continues on our global health experts’ £3.5m research project focused on strengthening mental health care and treatment of diabetes and heart disease in countries with weak health systems. See more at: [ broken link ]

A Sustainable Campus

In 2017, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of our move to our current campus, the development of which was the first new University Campus in Scotland for a generation and the first of the 21st Century. Our campus, recognised as an exemplar in sustainability within the higher education sector nationally and internationally, is a physical example of our commitment to sustainability and is the foundation upon which our vision and strategy for sustainability continue to develop. The campus has become an intrinsic part of the University’s brand, and is a significant attraction for students, parents and staff. It has supported greatly progress towards fulfilling our vision of being a university of ideas and influence. Airy and bright, it offers a real community feel, with ready access to student services, food outlets, student accommodation, sports facilities, beautiful grounds, and plenty of places for socialising. The Students’ Union also occupies a building on site.

Looking to the future, we recognise many opportunities for the further development of our estate, including the development of the Edinburgh Innovation Park on the land next to our campus as part of the Edinburgh & South East Scotland City Region Deal. Last summer it was confirmed that Government funding of £30 million has been pledged to contribute towards this joint development by QMU and East Lothian Council, which forms part of a broader masterplan including a commercial hub on campus.

The Role – Chair of Court

The Chair of the University Court is responsible for the leadership and effectiveness of the Court, and for ensuring that the University is well connected with its stakeholders, including its staff and students.

In discharging their duties, the Chair exercises a number of key responsibilities in relation to the leadership and effective operation of the Court, including to:

  • Chair meetings of the Queen Margaret University Court, and have a deliberative and a casting vote at such meetings.
  • Command the trust and respect of (i) the other members of the University Court, (ii) the University Senate, (iii) the staff and students of the University.
  • Contribute to collective decision-making and act only in the interests of the Institution, not on behalf on any electoral constituency or interest group.
  • Ensure members work together in an open, accountable and effective manner.
  • Ensure that the Court considers all key issues affecting the University and that all members have an adequate opportunity to express their views and participate in, and contribute to, decision making.
  • Ensure the effective operation of the Court in accordance with its Standing Orders.
  • Convene or act as a member of Court committees as determined by the governance arrangements of the Court.
  • Monitor the ongoing performance of the Court and ensure that the Court acts consistently with the principles of public life and applicable governance standards including the Scottish Code of Good Higher Education Governance 2017, and the UK Corporate Governance Code.
  • Ensure the performance of the Court and the University are monitored through appropriate performance indicators and other data.
  • Ensure that there is an appropriate balance of authority between the University Court, as the governing body, and the Principal of the University.
  • Review the performance of the Principal on an annual basis in accordance with agreed criteria, and monitor compliance with the Principal’s terms and conditions of employment.
  • Develop and maintain a constructive, yet appropriately critical and challenging, relationship with the University Secretary and other senior members of staff.
  • Engage in periodic review of the individual contributions and performance of Court members and to work with members in identifying opportunities for future development in accordance with their individual needs.
  • Represent the University on the Committee of Scottish Chairs and other external forums as agreed by the Court from time to time.
  • Represent the University, in an ambassadorial role, at internal and external meetings and events as appropriate.


Eligible candidates must demonstrate that they meet the following essential criteria to enable them to fulfil effectively the role and responsibilities required of the Chair:

Attributes and Qualities

  • Demonstrable integrity and ability to command the respect and trust of others from a wide variety of backgrounds, including the establishment of a fair, open, honest and transparent leadership style.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, with a demonstrable ability to encourage the open discussion of divergent points of views and the building of consensus amongst a range of constituent groups.
  • Strongly evidenced personal commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • A commitment to the Vision, Mission and Values of the University.
  • A strong commitment to, and affinity for, higher education.
  • The ability to establish good relationships with the diverse and wide-ranging groups, individuals and organisations that constitute the University’s stakeholders.
  • Demonstrable ability to establish a challenging but constructive and effective working relationship with the Principal, all members of Court and the University’s Senior Management Team.

Essential Knowledge and Experience

  • A distinguished record of successful leadership at a senior and strategic level within a large and complex public, private or third sector organisation.
  • Experience of the legal, strategic planning, financial, budgetary and risk management issues associated with leadership of organisations as described above.
  • Experience of chairing boards and committees responsible for managing strategic issues.
  • Extensive knowledge and demonstrable understanding of corporate governance issues and a commitment to upholding the highest standards in public life.
  • Demonstrable commitment to, and experience of, equality, diversity and inclusion matters.
  • Knowledge of the Scottish higher education sector, or experience of key bodies relating to education in general, and higher education in particular, and/or of the charity, not-for-profit, voluntary or public/government sector.

Desirable Knowledge and Experience

  • Understanding of key developments in the national and international environment in relation to higher education.
  • Experience in areas relevant to the research and academic focus of the University.
  • Knowledge of fundraising and development.

If you share our values and vision, are able to subscribe to the commitments set out above, and consider you meet the person specification, we would like to hear from you.

Queen Margaret University is committed to ensuring that its Court represents the staff, students and community which it serves. As such, we would welcome applications that reflect the breadth and diversity of those communities, and that would further enhance the diversity of the Court. We welcome applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

Appointment Process

In line with the requirements set out in the Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Act 2016, the appointment process for the Chair comprises three distinct stages: application; interview; and election.


Applications are invited in the form of:

  • A current CV or description of work and other relevant experience.
  • A supporting statement highlighting how your skills and experience match the role specification.
  • The names of two referees who may be contacted.

You are also asked complete and return an Equality and Diversity Monitoring Form. Please note that this form will be used purely for monitoring purposes. The form will be separated from your application and will not form part of the selection process.

Applications should be submitted by Friday, 25 September 2020.

The appointing committee of the University Court will review all applications and determine which of them appears to meet the criteria for appointment. Shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview.

Enquiries may be made directly to:
Irene Hynd,

University Secretary,

Queen Margaret University (

telephone 0131 474 0525.


Applicants invited for interview will meet with the appointment committee for a traditional interview which will explore each applicant’s qualities, attributes, knowledge and experience to determine whether the applicant has satisfactorily demonstrated they fulfil the criteria for appointment to the position.

Shortlisted candidates will also be invited to meet with members of the senior executive, with groups of staff and with students. Each of these groups will provide comments to the appointing committee.

Candidates who satisfactorily demonstrate to the appointing committee that they meet the relevant criteria will be entitled to stand as a candidate in an election process.


The final stage of the process involves an election between those individuals declared as candidates following interview.

An election will take place only in the event that there are two or more candidates that have confirmed an intention to stand as a candidate in the election. In the event that there is only one candidate, the election will be postponed until a new appointment process can be commenced. If there remains a candidate, she/he shall be entitled to stand as a candidate for election without further interview.

The Court will offer every candidate in the election reimbursement of reasonable expenses that are incurred by the candidate in campaigning in the election (up to the limit per candidate applying at the time of election and agreed by the appointing committee).

The electorate comprises students, staff and Court members of the University. The election will be managed by a third party. Candidates will have the opportunity to set out an election message that will be available to the electors as part of the voting process.

In the first-past-the-post election, the candidate who secures a simple majority of the total number of votes cast will be declared the winner and will be appointed Chair of Court. In the event of a tie between two or more candidates, the successful candidate will be determined by lot in a manner to be decided by the Returning Officer.

Terms of Appointment

The time commitment for the role will vary, but is likely to amount to not less than one day per week on average, with some additional time for reading. The Chair of Court must be available to provide informal support to the Principal and Vice Chancellor, the University Secretary and members of Court.

The date of appointment will be agreed with the appointee, but will be before March 2021. The appointment is for a period of three years. This period may be extended by the University Court for up to a further 3 years on the recommendation of the Nominations Committee.

An honorarium for the position is offered at the rate of £300 per day, to a maximum of £15k per annum (based on 50 days commitment annually).

Reasonable travel and subsistence expenses can be claimed for attendance at Court and Committee meetings or other duties carried out at the request of Court. The rates of expenses claimable are the same as for members of staff under the University’s Travel and Expenses Policy.

Please note that this position is not superannuable.

Further Information


Court Members’ Handbook

Senior Officers

Membership of Court

Strategic Plan

Outcome Agreement with the Scottish Funding Council (SFC)

Annual Report and Accounts

Court Statement of Primary Responsibilities [ broken link ]

Scottish Code of Higher Education Governance 2017

Financial Memorandum with the Scottish Funding Council [ broken link ]