Universities Wales Team
Chair – Professor Julie Lydon
Professor Julie Lydon OBE, was elected as Chair of Universities Wales in August 2017. Professor Lydon took up the position of Vice Chancellor of the University of South Wales (formerly University of Glamorgan, prior to the merger with University of Wales, Newport, that formed the University of South Wales in April 2013) in April 2010. She was previously Deputy Vice Chancellor and the Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic Department) at the University, which she joined in 2006. From 2003 to 2006 Professor Lydon was Assistant Vice Chancellor at UWE Bristol, with oversight for academic quality, student services, academic secretariat and timetabling. Previously, she was Associate Dean of the Business School at the University of Wolverhampton.
With a strong personal interest in standards and quality in higher education, she was previously an auditor for the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education and is currently a member of the QAA Advisory Panel for Wales. Other representational roles include board membership of UCEA, HECSU, University Alliance, HEFCW Student Experience, Teaching & Quality Committee and she is a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education. When time allows, her research interests include organisational change and collaboration within higher education.
Phone: +44 (0)29 2044 8020
Director – Amanda Wilkinson
Amanda has been Director of Universities Wales since November 2004. Previously she held posts with the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) as Director for South West England, Head of Policy for Wales and Senior Adviser on Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) matters for the UK. During her early career she worked for the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation and the Valuation Office Agency. Amanda has served on numerous advisory bodies representing local government, business and higher education. She holds a degree and a postgraduate qualification from Staffordshire University.
Phone: +44 (0)29 2044 8020
Head of Policy and External Affairs – Kieron Rees
Kieron Rees joined Universities Wales in March 2017. Prior to joining, Kieron managed the External Affairs team at Carers Trust Wales and had overall responsibility for the organisation’s policy, public affairs and campaigns work. Before this, Kieron worked at the National Union of Students Wales across a range of policy and research areas including higher education, skills, and widening access. Kieron currently sits on the governing body of Gower College Swansea and was formerly Chair of Public Affairs Cymru. He has a BA in English Literature from Swansea University and a PGCE in English from the University of Wales.
Phone: +44 (0)29 2044 8025
Policy Adviser – Ben Arnold
Ben Arnold joined Universities Wales in August 2011. He first worked at Oxford University while training to become a barrister. After his call to the Bar in 2001 however, he chose to pursue higher education as his main career and led strategic planning first at Oxford Brookes University and then at the University of Wales, Newport, where he became a Director and member of the senior executive.
Phone: +44 (0)29 2044 8028
Communications and Campaigns Officer – Jodi Cox
Policy and Public Affairs Officer – Sophie Douglas
Sophie joined Universities Wales in November 2020. Prior to joining she worked in public affairs and campaigning roles at Alzheimer’s Society Cymru and Carers Trust Wales, where she was involved in stakeholder engagement and influencing strategy. Before this, Sophie worked in the Pro Bono and Employability department at Cardiff University Law School, supporting a number of projects providing free legal advice on matters such as NHS Continuing Healthcare. Sophie has a degree in Law from Cardiff University.
Business Manager – Chris Laity
Office Manager – Lynn Deane
Lynn Deane joined Universities Wales in February 2019 as Office Manager. Her role includes managing the Director’s diary and keeping the office running smoothly. Prior to joining Universities Wales, Lynn held Executive Assistant roles at various organisations including the Welsh Development Agency and Coca-Cola.
Phone: +44 (0)29 2044 8020
International & Global Wales
Head of International – Gwen Williams
Phone: +44 (0)29 2044 8027
Marketing Manager, Study in Wales – Tracey Marenghi
Tracey joined Universities Wales in January 2019 as Marketing and Communications Manager for Global Wales. As well as managing the marketing and communications campaigns in the UK and in priority overseas markets Tracey is also managing the overall international programme until September 2020 while Gwen is on maternity leave.
Previously Tracey spent 13 years as Marketing Manager for Wales at The Open University with a remit to increase the number of part-time learners studying in Wales. Before this Tracey worked in the private sector, heading UK marketing communications for the Hoover Candy Group. Tracey has an MBA from The Open University and a BSc in Russian and Soviet Studies from the University of Surrey.
Phone: +44 (0)29 2044 8023
Marketing Manager, Study in Wales – Lisa Clennell (cover for Tracey Marenghi’s post)
Lisa joined Universities Wales in September 2020 to support Tracey’s role whilst she takes some time out of work. She is currently managing marketing and communications campaigns in the UK and priority overseas markets. Lisa is based in Manchester.
Previously, Lisa worked for 15 years at The Open University taking care of the North of England recruitment and retention marketing strategy. In addition to this, Lisa has worked for local Government, NHS in Scotland and also within the private training sector. Since 2018 she has been self-employed supporting various organisations with customer-focused business and marketing strategy development.
Market Development Manager – Sara Stephens
Sara joined Universities Wales in September 2019 as International Policy Adviser, supporting the Global Wales agenda. She is now responsible for supporting market development in India. Prior to joining Unis Wales, she worked for the National Council for Voluntary Organisations in England on European Social Fund policy and communications on behalf of the civil society sector. Previously, Sara worked in the European Parliament as Head of Staff for a Welsh MEP and more recently, was a Group Researcher at the National Assembly.
Sara has a BSc Econ in European Union Studies from Cardiff University. She also studied at the Institut d’Études Politiques de Lyon, France and Universidad de Extremadura, Cáceres, Spain, as part of the Erasmus programme.
Phone: +44 (0)29 2044 1228
Market Development Manager – Dr Maggie Parke
Maggie joined Universities Wales in December 2018. Her primary role is to develop links, support the Universities’ work, and initiate research and programs between Wales and the United States.
Maggie previously was Country Manager for The Americas at Bangor University, managing North, Central, and South America recruitment and relationships for the university. She has her MA in Arthurian Literature, and her PhD in Film and Creative Industries from Bangor University as well. She lectures in London for an American study abroad program (CAPA) on Creative Industries and Business, and online with Signum University. She also freelances in the Creative Sector on script, project, and audience development.
Phone: +44 (0)7384 542518
International Projects Officer – Laura Fergusson
Laura joined Universities Wales in November 2016 as our Office Manager, and in summer 2018 joined the International Team to work on the Global Wales II programme.
Prior to joining Unis Wales, Laura ran her own business offering antenatal and baby development courses, following a career break to look after her young children. Previously, Laura worked in the Welsh Government’s Health Department as a policy development officer for secondary care health services. She has a degree in English Literature & Language studies from Cardiff University and a Postgraduate Diploma in Health Service Management, from the University of Wales, College of Medicine.
Phone: +44 (0)29 2044 8029
International Marketing and Administration Assistant – Emma Fuller