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Professor John Harper - The Principal

Board of Governors

Professor John Harper - The Principal

The Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Robert Gordon University is the Chief Executive Officer, appointed by the Board of Governors and accountable to it for the management and organisation of the University.

John was born and brought up in Wick in the North of Scotland before moving to Aberdeen where he studied for both an honours degree and a PhD in Chemistry at the University of Aberdeen. He entered higher education as a lecturer in Chemistry at the former Robert Gordon Institute of Technology and subsequently progressed to senior-lectureship and then Head of School of Applied Sciences. In this role, John was involved in a range of national activities, including teaching quality assessment, external examining and course development and approval. This contributed to his attaining the award of Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

John was promoted to the role of Assistant Principal/Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Care before progressing to the role of Vice Principal and subsequently Deputy Principal and Vice-Chancellor with specific responsibility for Academic Quality and Development and subsequently Principal and Vice-Chancellor.

John has served on a number of national committees associated with institutional quality assurance, quality enhancement and widening participation and undertaken non-executive governance roles in a range of organisations including national regulator, FE College, and private School.


The Board of Governors has delegated to the Principal the responsibility and authority for the leadership, administration and management of the University.

The main functions of the post can be summarised as follows:

  • The Chief Executive Officer of the University, appointed by the Board of Governors and accountable to it for the management and organisation of the University and for discipline within it
  • The Chief Academic Officer of the University and the Chair of its Academic Council
  • The Officer designated to be responsible to Scottish Government for the University's use of public funds
  • The University's chief ambassador

Register of Interests

All positions, appointments, employment etc (whether remunerated or not) that you hold with any other organisation.

  • None

Details of any self-employed business, consultancy or other activities you are engaged in, whether remunerated or not, or for other reward or gains.

  • None

Details of any contractual or financial/non-financial relationship (including Directorship, Partnership, Consultancy, Board Membership, other Appointments or position of authority or influence, whether paid or unpaid,) with any other company, public authority or service or any other organisation, or any other position you have that would or could enable you to influence the award of a contract or allow you to benefit financially.

  • Director Opportunity North East (ONE) Board.

Details of any ownership of land or property or other holdings within Aberdeen (other than your own main family home) that may be directly or indirectly affected by any known or prospective estate development plan in the vicinity of the city centre campus or the Garthdee campus.

  • None

Details of any other interests or matters of equivalence to any of the above.

  • None

Details where the interests of any close relative may require to be declared.

  •  None

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