Universities UK is a membership organisation, supported by a staff of approximately 100 in its three offices and led by the chief executive, Nicola Dandridge, who is responsible for the leadership and management of Universities UK. With its head office in Woburn House in London, Universities UK has offices in Edinburgh (Universities Scotland) and Cardiff (Higher Education Wales). The chief executive is appointed by the UK Board and reports to the Universities UK president. In an interaction with Vikram Chaudhary of The Financial Express, Ms Dandridge—who became chief executive of Universities UK in September 2009—shares the functioning of Universities UK and her thoughts on why the UK remains one of the most attractive destinations in the world for international students. Excerpts:
What is the mission and key aims of Universities UK?
Universities UK is the organisation that represents the heads of all the UK’s universities. Its mission is to be the collective voice for all universities in the UK, promoting the strength and success of UK universities nationally and internationally. Universities UK has 134 member institutions and offices in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh.
How does Universities UK help prospective students who are looking to study in the UK, especially London?
As the representative body of the heads of UK universities, Universities UK does not assist individual students directly. We are, however, committed to ensuring that all prospective international students have a positive experience in the UK and we work to make sure that their interests are always protected. Organisations such as the British Council have a remit to help prospective students looking to study in the UK. They provide advice and guidance on a whole range of issues. Their website Education UK (www.educationuk.org) gives advice and guidance on a whole range of issues, from courses to study, different institutions to more general information on life in Britain.
How much has the student visa row damaged the image of UK higher education, if it has?
We must make sure that clumsily-handled changes to our visa rules do not drown out the reality of the situation.
The UK remains one of the most attractive destinations in the world for international students, and rightly so. The vast majority of international students have a very positive experience here, and the reputation of UK universities overseas remains strong, in terms of quality and global rankings. We have expressed concerns previously that the rhetoric and negative headlines about immigration and student visas risks