Board Members

Board Members

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 universities 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

Ram Gidoomal CBE

Ram Gidoomal CBE

Appointed as the new Chair of the OIA from July 2009. Ram Gidoomal has previously been the Chair of the Employability Forum, helping refugees into employment, and a member of the UK Border Agency Complaints Audit Committee. He also chaired the Anti-Discrimination subgroup of the Better Regulation Task Force and has had Non-Executive roles at Imperial College London and St George's University of London. He was appointed in a national recruitment campaign under rules of fair and open competition. He follows Professor Norman Gowar who served as Chair for two terms since the OIA's inception.

Deputy Chair of the Board

Terry Price

Terry Price

Appointed June 2008. Terry is an accountant currently performing a number of non-executive roles for government bodies and housing associations. He is also Chair of Governors at Esher Sixth Form College and St Lawrence Junior School. Previously Terry was Director of Strategic Finance at the Metropolitan Police and Director of Resources at Sport England, and he has thirty years experience in local and central government.

Independent Directors

Peter Forbes

Peter Forbes

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.

Carey Haslam

Carey Haslam

Carey is a consultant and trainer specialising in mediation, conflict resolution and equality and diversity issues. She is an independent mediator. She provides training for Leap Confronting Conflict and Actuate Learning and Development; she is a visiting lecturer at London Metropolitan University and will be a course tutor on the first Youth and Conflict Foundation Degree and Leeds Metropolitan University in 2011. She was previously Chair of Mediation UK.

Erica Lewis

Erica Lewis

Appointed December 2012, Erica has joined the Board of Independent Directors. As well as being a current PhD student at Lancaster University Management School, Erica brings the experience of long standing involvement in the higher Education sector at international level: She graduated at the Australian National University in 2007 and completed a Master at Harvard University in 2009. Erica has also a wide range of experience in non-profit governance as well as serving in an advocate role for a student organisation and working as an investigator of international student complaints at the Australian Government Department of Education.

Dr Andrew Purkis OBE

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

Dr Martyn Thomas CBE

Appointed December 2010. Martyn is a consultant software engineer and expert witness. 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 works extensively with universities, as a visiting professor at Oxford and Bristol, as chair of the Executive Board of the Framework 7 Integrated Project Deploy, and as a member of advisory committees at Bath and City. He is a member of the Defence Scientific Advisory Council of the Ministry of Defence, Chair of the IT Policy Panel for the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from Hull, Edinburgh and City universities and a CBE for services to software engineering.

Claire Weir

Claire Weir

Claire is a barrister at Blackstone Chambers where she specialises in judicial review, human rights and employment law. She is a member of the Attorney-General’s Panel of counsel. She volunteers as a community mediator with Lambeth Mediation Service, and is a primary school governor.

Colin Wilby

Colin Wilby

Appointed June 2008. Colin has a varied business background in the food manufacturing and engineering industries, working for large companies, including Lucas, Associated British Foods, Nestle and RHM in personnel, operations and general management roles. Most recently Colin was Managing Director of a business unit within RHM plc. He is now a Non-Executive Director of Medway NHS Foundation Trust.

Nominated Directors

Steve Denton

Steve Denton

Nominated by AHUA

Appointed July 2009. Steve is Pro-Director, Strategy and Organisation at the Institute of Education, University of London. Steve graduated in Law from Lancaster University in 1986 following which he spent a further year as a sabbatical officer at the students’ union. In 1997, he became University Secretary and Clerk to the Board at Thames Valley University. In May 2001, Steve became University Secretary and Clerk to the Board at Leeds Metropolitan University, and then in 2004, Registrar and Secretary of the University. He was made a Pro-Vice-Chancellor in November 2005. Steve is Honorary Treasurer of AHUA and a former member of the board of trustees of the AUA.

Peter A Hermitage QPM

Peter A Hermitage QPM

Nominated by CUC

Peter Hermitage is the Pro-Chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University. He has been a member of the University’s governing body since 2000. His professional background is within the police service, having retired as the Director of National Police Training (NPT) in May 1999 after serving in the police for over 30 years, during which time he rose from the rank of Constable to Chief Constable.

He spent most of his career involved in policing in Kent with significant involvement in the shaping of operational systems and practices. He served from 1994-1996 with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary at the Home Office having particular responsibility for the inspection of personnel issues and value for money. As the Director of NPT, he was responsible for all recruit training, the Police Staff College, specialist training in crime and operations and the quality of training. His work had an international dimension and he acted as an adviser to the UK government.

From June 2000 until October 2003 he served as the Chairman of the East Kent NHS Hospital Trust. He was a Board Member of the Security Industry Authority from April 2003, taking on the Chairmanship of the Authority until 2006. He undertakes consultancy work in the area of management and is involved in the care of older people as a Trustee of Michael Yoakley's Charity in Thanet.

He lives in Canterbury with his wife. He has a married daughter, a married son and four grandchildren.

Haf Merrifield

Haf Merrifield

Nominated by GuildHE

Appointed in August 2011. Before joining Bishop Grosseteste University College, Haf spent much of her career in the Civil service, most recently as Director for Children and Learners for the East Midlands for the Department for Education with previous roles in the Department of Trade and Industry, Cabinet Office and, briefly, the European Commission, including some experience of regulatory policy. She also has experience as a senior manager in local government.

Professor Michael Thorne

Professor Michael Thorne

Nominated by Universities UK

Appointed August 2007. Michael has been Vice-Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University since the start of 2007. For the previous 5 years he was Vice-Chancellor of the University of East London. Prior to that he held appointments at University College London, Cardiff University, Sunderland University and Napier University. Most of his academic output has been in mathematics and computer science but most recently he has contributed to the education policy debate internationally. He currently chairs the government's Advisory Council on Libraries, is a Parliamentary Skills Commissioner and is a member of the Board of the Learning and Skills Network. His passion for music has seen him conduct all of Wagner's major operas in the last 7 years.

Dr Chris Turner

Dr Chris Turner

Nominated by Higher Education Wales

Appointed July 2009 and previously an alternate Director for AHUA. Chris is a career University Manager and is currently Director of Registry, Governance and Students at Cardiff University. He is Chair of the Welsh Secretaries Group and is also a non-executive Director of Cwm Taf NHS Trust.

Rachel Wenstone

Rachel Wenstone

Nominated by the National Union of Students

Rachel Wenstone is Vice-President (Higher Education) of the National Union of Students. Previously, she studied for an MSc in Human Rights at the London School of Economics. She studied Law as an undergraduate at Leeds University, before spending a year as a sabbatical officer at Leeds University Union. She served two years on the NUS National Executive Committee, sitting as co-convenor of the Anti-fascism Anti-racism Committee for both years and on the NUS Women's Campaign Committee in her second year.

Rachel's priorities as an officer of the national union include defending higher education as a public good, supporting students' unions to work on student retention and success and championing excellent teaching.

Alternate Directors

Geoffrey Elliott

Geoffrey Elliott

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.

Mark Humphriss

Mark Humphriss

Alternate Director for AHUA

Mark Humphriss is University Secretary at the University of Bath. He is convenor of the southern region of the Association of Heads of University Administration and a member of its Executive. Prior to joining the University of Bath in 2007, he worked for 17 years for the Church of England in a variety of roles.

Dr Debbie McVitty

Dr Debbie McVitty

Alternate Director for the National Union of Students

Debbie McVitty is the Head of Higher Education Research and Policy of the NUS. Prior to this, she worked in research development at the University of Oxford. She holds a DPhil in English Literature from the University of Oxford which was awarded in 2008.

John Raftery

John Raftery

Alternate Director for UUK

Professor John Raftery has been a Pro Vice-Chancellor at Oxford Brookes University since 2005. His academic and consultancy work has encompassed risk analysis, cartels and restrictive practices and ‘quasi-rational’ economic behaviour. He has worked in Hong Kong, Scandinavia and the UK. Currently responsible for the student experience at Oxford Brookes, he is Chair of the Board of Abingdon and Witney College of Further Education in Oxfordshire.

Chief Operating Officer and Company Secretary

Ben Elger

Ben Elger

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 Management Team with key responsibility for finance and human resources management. 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.

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