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
Policy Adviser (Research and Brexit) – Mairwen Harris
Phone: +44(0)29 20448022
Policy Officer (Learning and Teaching) – Chris Laity
Chris is also a parent governor at Cadoxton Primary School in Barry and a member of the Vale of Glamorgan Schools Governing Bodies Group. Chris holds a BA in English Literature from Manchester Metropolitan University and a PGDip in Higher Education Leadership and Management from Loughborough University.
Business Manager – Laura Fergusson
Laura joined Universities Wales in November 2016, as our Office Manager, and in summer 2019 took on the new role of Business Manager, with responsibility for the management and co-ordination of the day-to-day operations of the Universities Wales office, providing support to the Director and the various Universities Wales’ committees and sub groups.
Prior to joining Unis Wales, Laura ran her own business offering antenatal and baby development courses, following a career break to raise 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
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 (Maternity)
Gwen has worked for Universities Wales since June 2014. Prior to joining Universities Wales, Gwen worked at Welsh Higher Education Brussels (WHEB) leading on Biosciences and Advanced Manufacturing research groups, and was responsible for following developments in Education policy. Prior to joining WHEB, Gwen spent two years working as a European Parliamentary Officer at the UK Representation to the EU. She has an MSc. in European Politics from the London School of Economics and is a graduate of Durham University.
Phone: +44 (0)29 2044 8027
Head of Programme, Global 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
International Policy Adviser – Sara Stephens
Sara is the International Policy Adviser, supporting the Global Wales agenda, and is Gwen Williams’ maternity leave cover. Sara joined Universities Wales in September 2019. 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 for seven years 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.
Phone: +44 (0)29 2267 1228
Senior Market Development Manager – Elizabeth George
Elizabeth joined Universities Wales as Senior Market Development Manager in December 2019, and is responsible for the management and implementation of the India strategy as part of Global Wales Programme. Elizabeth is on secondment from her role as Deputy Head of International Partnerships and Relations and the University of Bristol, where she is responsible for the University’s relationship with international sponsor organisations. Previously she was a Stakeholder Engagement Consultant with clients in Higher Education as well as private and third sectors.
Elizabeth’s background is in International student recruitment, working in a range of overseas markets from Hong Kong to India. After completing her degree in Law from Cardiff University in 2009, she joined at Graduate Management programme at the University which led her to working in Central, Faculty and School international teams at Universities throughout the UK.
Phone: +44 (0)29 2267 1226
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 Marketing and Administration Assistant – Emma Fuller