The Board of Directors has 15 members. Nine, including the Chair, are Independent Directors appointed by fair and open competition and because of the value and relevance of their skills and experience. Six are Nominated Directors who represent the major representative bodies in higher education in England and Wales. The representative bodies may also appoint Alternate Directors, to attend Board meetings if their Nominated Director is not available. Directors are normally appointed for terms of office of three years, which are renewable.
The Board's responsibilities include: oversight of the performance and effectiveness of the Independent Adjudicator and the Scheme; setting the budget for the OIA and determining the level of subscriptions payable by providers each year; approving the rules and procedures for the operation of the Scheme and preserving the independence of the Scheme.
Board members are independent from the Office and are not involved in the review of individual complaints.
Chair of the Board
Dame Suzi Leather
Dame Suzi Leather has a wide professional background having been Chair of the Charity Commission, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the School Food Trust, the School Meals Review Panel and the Council of Food Policy Advisers. She was the founder Deputy Chair of the UK Food Standards Agency and has also served on the Council and Ethics Committee of Exeter University. In the health field she chaired the Exeter and District Community NHS Trust and the Ethics Committee of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. She has been a member the Human Tissue Authority, an observer member of the Human Genetics Commission and sat on the steering group of the UK Stem Cell Bank. More widely, she was a member of Consumer Focus and the United Kingdom Accreditation Service. She is Vice President of Hospiscare, serves on the board of the General Medical Council and chairs the Lankelly Chase Foundation, a charity which works to bring about change that will transform the quality of life of people who face severe and multiple disadvantage. She is a lay chapter canon at Exeter Cathedral.
Dr Wendy Finlay
Wendy is Vice-Principal – Student Experience at University College of Estate Management. She has worked in higher education management since 2004, having moved across from a career as a post-doctoral research associate. Wendy has worked at a range of institutions delivering higher education during her career, including universities, Alternative Providers and an FE College.
Gillian Fleming works independently in dispute resolution and professional regulation. She has extensive experience of deciding complaints in the public and private sectors. Gillian has been part of an Executive Team and was a Non Executive Director of a Foundation Trust Hospital. She is an accredited mediator and a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
Peter is the owner of Employability Works, providing board level support on HR matters to small businesses. He is associate director for employability at the Council for Industry and Higher Education. Previously he was Group Resourcing Manager of Fujitsu/ICL and board member of the Association of Graduate Recruiters.
Appointed in 2010, Carey Haslam is a conflict consultant, providing process design, training, facilitation and coaching to statutory and third sector organisations. She has been working in ADR sector since 1991; she is an accredited independent mediator and specialises in workplace, SEN and community disputes. She is particularly interested in diversity and inclusion. She has specific experience in the youth sector as she was the Director of Delivery at Leap Confronting Conflict, the national youth and conflict charity. She was previously the Chair of Mediation UK.
Appointed in July 2014, Andy Mack is a Director with Grant Thornton UK LLP, and a member of Grant Thornton's Public Sector Assurance leadership team. Andy is a qualified Chartered Accountant and a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. Andy is also a visiting lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University, where he lectures in Audit and Assurance.
Dr Andrew Purkis OBE
Dr Andrew Purkis was a "fast stream" civil servant at the Northern Ireland Office before beginning a long career in the charity sector. He has been Assistant Director of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, Chief Executive of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and of The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and a special adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury. More recently he has worked on health partnerships with the developing world. He has been Chair of four national charities and a Board Member of the Charity Commission for England and Wales. He is currently Chair of ActionAid, and an Independent Member of the Parole Board.
Dr Martyn Thomas CBE
Appointed December 2010. Martyn is a consultant software engineer and non-executive director. He was a founder of the software company Praxis and a partner in Deloitte & Touche before setting up his current company, Martyn Thomas Associates in 1997. He is a visiting professor at Oxford, Bristol, and Aberystwyth. He is a member of the Defence Scientific Advisory Council of the Ministry of Defence, Non-executive director of the Health and Safety Executive, and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, where he chairs the External Affairs Committee. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from Hull, Edinburgh and City universities and a CBE for services to software engineering.
After graduating from Birmingham University in 1995, Sophie spent 4 years as a Police Officer for West Midlands Police, before changing careers to manage support services at Birmingham University’s Guild of Students. Following a role as a Mental Health Lead for a Community Interest Company, she became a Neighbourhood Manager for Birmingham City Council in 2009. In 2011, Sophie moved to Wolverhampton Students’ Union as Deputy Chief Executive and, in August 2015, onto her current post as Chief Executive for Worcester Students’ Union. She has also held a number of volunteering roles, including a Local Authority Governor and PTA Treasurer.
Nominated by Universities Wales
William has worked in universities since 1990, starting in London and moving to Goldsmiths and then Brunel. He was Deputy Registrar at Hertfordshire for 6 years before returning ‘home’ to Wales in 2005 to be Academic Registrar at what is now Cardiff Met. In 2007 William joined Glamorgan; subsequently and following merger he is now & Executive Director, Governance, Legal & Assurance and University Secretary at the University of South Wales.
Nominated by GuildHE
Geoffrey is Professor of Lifelong Learning and Director of Strategic Partnerships at the University of Worcester. He chairs the University Research Degrees Board and is an active researcher specialising in lifelong learning and educational leadership. He is Chair of the UK Further Education Research Association, and has been Editor in Chief of the international peer refereed journal Research in Post-Compulsory Education since its launch in 1995.
Geoffrey is an accredited mediator and has been closely involved in community and educational projects in London and the West Midlands over the last 40 years.
Professor Alistair Fitt
Nominated by Universities UK
Professor Alistair Fitt is the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University. An applied mathematician, he previously worked for 22 years at the University of Southampton. Alistair's external involvements include close connections with EPSRC and other funding agencies. He is the President-elect of the IMA (the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications) and is also a member of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership Board and a Non-Executive Director of a number of companies.
Nominated by AHUA
Mark Humphriss is University Secretary at the University of Bath. He is responsible for a number of professional service functions including governance, equality and diversity and international students and as a member of the Vice-Chancellor’s senior team shares corporate responsibility for the management of the University. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Heads of University Administration. He is a Governor of the Royal United Hospitals, Trustee of the Holburne Museum and chair of its Higher Education Strategy Board and Company Secretary of Designability. Prior to joining the University of Bath in 2007, he worked for the Church of England in a variety of roles, latterly as Head of Financial Policy.
Nominated by the National Union of Students
Sorana Vieru is the Vice President (Higher Education) of NUS. She was previously the Postgraduate Education Sabbatical Officer at the University of Bristol Students’ Union. She is halfway through a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Bristol where she also graduated from an MA in Philosophy & History of Science and also holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Birmingham.
Nominated by CUC
Simon’s professional life has been in specialist medicine, supplemented by spells as hospital Medical Director, medical advisor in Department of Health and hospital Non-Executive Director. He has held deanery posts in undergraduate and post-graduate medical training and chaired school and hospice boards. Currently, he chairs the Board of University of Wolverhampton.
Alternate Director for the National Union of Students
Appointed in June 2014, Bethan is the Senior Higher Education Officer at the National Union of Students. She works closely with students’ unions on a range of policy areas including students’ union advice. Previous to joining NUS Bethan worked in local students’ unions with course reps, education policy development and as an academic adviser for students.
Alternate Director for AHUA
Dave has had twenty years’ experience in the university sector, which comes as some surprise because after he left school he joined the army. His first experience of university management was as President of the Students’ Union at the University of Reading. He subsequently served ten years at the University of Warwick; his last posting was as Director of Research and Development Services. In 2001 he joined the University of Birmingham as Academic Registrar, responsible for marketing, the student experience and corporate planning. He joined Leicester as Registrar and Secretary in 2006. He is responsible for leading the professional services of the institution, is secretary to the governing body and a member of the Executive. He has travelled extensively on behalf of the university including Beirut, Afghanistan, Iraq and Kurdistan.
Professor Paul Layzell
Alternate Director for Universities UK
Paul Layzell is Principal of Royal Holloway, University of London. He has held posts at Sussex, Manchester and UMIST and was Programme Manager for the UMIST-Manchester merger. A software engineering academic, he studies how software systems can best be adapted to meet the changing needs of organisations and users. He is Chair of AQA, the UK’s largest public awarding body for A-level and GCSE qualifications, and a board member of JISC.
Alternate Director for GuildHE
Jon Renyard is University Secretary / Director for Student Experience at the Arts University Bournemouth. A graduate of the University of Reading, Jon has particular experience and expertise in quality management. He was Chair of the Quality Strategy Network from 2007-2013, and also chairs the GuildHE Quality Management Group. Jon became University Secretary at the Arts University Bournemouth in July 2014.
Alternate Director for Universities Wales
Richard Walters is a barrister who spent the first twenty years of his career working in the magisterial service. He was Justices’ Clerk in Mid Glamorgan from 1985 until local government and court reorganisation in 1996. Since 1999 Richard has been Secretary & Clerk to the Governors at Cardiff Metropolitan University. His main interests outside work and law are literature and choral and organ music.
Chief Operating Officer and Company Secretary
Ben joined the OIA as its first Chief Operating Officer in September 2008. He combines the role with that of Company Secretary. Ben is a member of the Senior Leadership Team with key responsibility for organisational planning, finance and people management. He was closely involved in preparations in the expansion of the OIA Scheme in September 2015 to include all providers of higher education. Before joining the OIA Ben spent 15 years working with students, for the last 10 years as Chief Executive of Reading University Students' Union, and before that at the Students' Unions at Winchester, King's College London and South Bank Universities and as National Secretary of NUS.