Appointment of the Next Principal

Our Leadership

Appointment of the Next Principal

The term of office our current Principal, Professor John Harper, is due to expire on 31 August 2020.

The University is embarking on the recruitment process for a new Principal in line with the Scottish Code of Good Higher Education Governance.

Selection Committee

The Board of Governors established an Appointment Committee to oversee the process and to appoint a Selection Committee.

Membership of this committee comprises:

  • 4 Independent Governors
    • Chair -  Mike Fleming
    • Maggie McGinlay
    • Tricia Walker
    • Colin Hunter
  • Professional and Support Staff Governor - Margaret Buchan
  • Academic Staff Governor – Eric Ogilvie-Brown
  • Undergraduate Student Governor - Chantay Pinas

To support recruitment, the University recently undertook a competitive tender process and appointed executive search agents Perrett Laver (PL).

Recruitment Process

The recruitment process will take place over a 6 month period, with the appointment likely to be made in early spring 2020. 

Early September 2019

The university actively engaged stakeholders to identify views on the type of characteristics required in a potential candidate for the Principal, in line with best practice.

This included an extensive series of meetings with both internal and external stakeholders (Chancellor, Chairs’ Committee, Executive team, Heads of School, SMG grades & support heads, open staff forums, Student Union Presidents and Elected students and TU representatives) as well as a process for an online consultation to ensure all have the opportunity to input. The survey received 180 responses.

The themes that emerged broadly included:

  • Celebration of strengths of RGU being employability & student experience; applied research; widening access and student support; region; campus; friendly and loyal staff.
  • General support for current strategy, not seeking a wholesale change in direction.

Priorities for the next Principal were identified as:

  • Need to ensure financial sustainability
  • Maintaining and improving University’s reputation
  • Maintaining and improving student recruitment
  • Maintaining and improving staff morale and engagement
Autumn 2019

Recruitment phase commenced, vacancy was promoted in the usual sites and advertising was also in THE as well as activities by Executive search agents.

December 2019

Longlisting meeting – a good field of applicants was received and the Appointment Sub-Committee identified a longlist. The longlisted candidates were interviewed by PL.

January 2020

Shortlisting – from the longlisting recommendations from PL, a shortlist of 6 candidates was identified by the Appointment Sub-Committee.

February 2020 - Stage 1

Interview 1 (long short list) & Informal Information gathering for candidates 6 candidates attended interview where they were asked questions on a number of topics. They also had a tour and a meeting with the current Principal (both unassessed).

The interview panel at this stage included Chair of Board, 2 Lay Governors, Staff Governor (professional & support) and Staff Governor TU nominated (Academic staff) and an external member.

Three candidates progressed to stage 2.  Psychometric testing was then carried out on these three candidates and will inform the final selection panel.

March 2020 - Stage 2

Opportunity for candidates to have one to one meetings with Executive and selected few other SMG (unassessed). Assessed by 3 Focus groups and Formal Interview with a presentation.

The three focus groups comprise 2 staff & student focus groups (on topics of Student Experience, and Research, Consultancy and Business Development), and a Governors Focus group.

The Selection Panel at this stage will comprise Chair, Vice Chair, Lay Governor, 3 Staff Governors (Academic staff, Academic Council and Professional & Support Staff), Student Governor and an external member (being a Principal of another Scottish university)

Appointment Manager

Updates will be provided to you as the appointment process progresses. In the meantime, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact Veronica Strachan via

Perrett Laver is supporting the Selection Committee and can be contacted via

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