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Council members

Anyone wishing to contact external members of the council should email the Working Secretary in the first instance (details below).

Malcolm Sweeting

Malcolm Sweeting 
Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the Council

Malcolm Sweeting took up the role of Pro-Chancellor of the Open University from 1 January 2019.  He says, "The Open University is instantly recognised with great affection and great respect for its achievements. Almost everyone I speak to has a story to tell about the OU, and how it has inspired one of their family or friends to achieve their ambitions. As the OU celebrates its 50th Anniversary, it is with great pride that I take this wonderful opportunity to assist the OU to continue to change the lives of so many and to make such a profound and deep impact on society."

 Previously Malcolm was Global Senior Partner at Clifford Chance, one of the world’s largest elite law firms with 34 offices in 27 countries. Malcolm also sat on the CityUK Advisory Board, the China Britain Business Council, the Board at Hopes and Homes for Children, and the European Advisory Board of Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB). Malcolm is currently on the Chatham House’s Britain in a Global World Advisory Board and the Programme Board for CKGSB /Möller Institute Innovation for Impact Project.

As a Pro-Chancellor, Malcolm is the Chair of the OU Council and Governance & Nominations Committee; Deputy Chair of Strategic Planning and Resources Committee; a member of the University's Finance and Remuneration Committees and attends Investment Committee.

Term of office: 01.01.2019 – 31.12.2026 (second term)

Professor John Brooks

Professor John Brooks
Vice-Chair of the Council

John has been an academic throughout his working life. His career has combined a deep interest in research, with a commitment to excellent teaching and learning.

His early career was at Sheffield Hallam University, where he became a Reader, Head of Department of Applied Physics and Director of Materials Research Institute, before becoming a PVC responsible for Academic Teaching and Research.

John then became Vice-Chancellor of Wolverhampton University, where the emphasis was on developing a modern and flexible curriculum that was accessible and served the needs of a diverse student body. At this time, the impact of new technology was considerable and an innovative Managed Learning Environment enabled the University to package programmes to suit different markets.

After seven years, John moved to become Vice-Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University. Here the challenge was of scale, complexity and distributed campuses. Over ten years, MMU rationalized from seven campuses to two with a capital spend of £250m. The performance in both teaching and research improved significantly.

John has always admired the OU for the way it combines academic excellence with a real commitment to open access and flexible learning.  He believes that this model of a University is not well served by the current quality framework and student fee regime. However, it is vital that the OU maximizes its position within the present HE environment. The planned changes are vital and may not go far enough.  Several performance measures have been in decline and it is vital that this trend is reversed.

He says ‘I hope that my HE experience will help the Council to support the change agenda led by the Vice-Chancellor. I know how difficult it is for non-HE colleagues to understand the complexity of HE regulation and funding, and the political influences. I hope that my role can be to simplify, to challenge and to support. I am confident that the OU has a vital role to play in the future direction of UK HE, particularly post Brexit, and I am delighted to be given the opportunity to contribute.

Term of office: 01.08.2017 – 31.07.2025 (second term)

Robert McCracken

Robert McCracken

Robert graduated in law from Edinburgh University in 1979, joined Ernst & Young (EY) in 1980 and was a partner in the firm from 1992 until 2018. He became a member of the OU Finance Committee in August 2015. Throughout his career at EY, Robert specialised in auditing and advising banks and other financial services institutions. After 2007, Robert combined a leadership role in the UK firm’s accounting technical department, a global role as co-chairman of the firm’s IFRS Financial Instruments Working Group, and a continuing role as audit partner for various audit clients.

Since retiring from EY, Robert has advised the firm on audit quality and has taken on the role of Audit Committee Chair of a number of portfolio companies owned by a leading Private Equity group. He was the Treasurer and Audit Committee Chair of the Tate Members Council from 2004 to 2014. He brings to the OU significant experience of operating at board level either as an auditor or non-executive director/trustee, combined with a strong interest in education and equality of opportunity. As Treasurer, Robert is Chair of the Finance Committee and the Investment Committee and a member of the Remuneration Committee.

Term of Office:  01-08-2019 – 31-07-2027 (second term)

Paul Kett

Paul Kett

Paul is Senior Adviser and Global Director Education and Skills at PwC. He was previously Director General for Skills at the Department for Education (DfE) until December 2022, having served in the role since January 2019. Prior to that he was Director General for Education Standards Group at the DfE. He joined DfE in 2016. Before his appointment at DfE, he worked for the British Army as a member of the Army Board in the role of Director Army Reform. Paul spent much of his earlier civil service career with the Ministry of Justice in roles spanning strategy, policy and project delivery, including as Director Justice Reform.

Term of office: 06-05-2022 – 30-04-2026 (first term)
Ceri Doyle

Ceri Doyle

Ceri Doyle has been the Chief Executive of Newport City Homes (NCH) since September 2014 and has utilised her extraordinary breadth of experience ranging from health, education, finance and community development to drive service improvements, increased financial stability and a focus on residents within NCH.  Since the tragic events at Grenfell in June 2017, she has personally led NCH’s response to engaging with residents, ensuring the safety of the tower blocks in Newport, and lobbying and working with national and regional agencies to promote the safety of residents and clarity in regulations.

Prior to NCH, Ceri held a number of executive roles at the Big Lottery Fund – the UK’s largest lottery distributor – including Interim Chief Executive, Director of Strategy, Performance and Learning and Director Wales. Ceri also held a number of senior management positions in local government in Scotland, where she delivered a number of pioneering partnerships utilising European, Lottery and PFI funding. Alongside this, Ceri established a number of not-for-profit organisations working to tackle unemployment and community regeneration.

Ceri has held numerous non-executive positions, she is currently a Commissioner with the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales, a former Ministerial Advisor and has previously served on the board of a number of health, education, arts and third sector organisations.

Term of office: 28.08.2020 – 31.07.2028 (second term)

andrew Dickinson

Andrew Dickinson

Andrew Dickinson has enjoyed a successful career with a tremendous breadth of international knowledge in business leadership, operations and Finance and is an experienced Senior Executive and Non-Exec Director, with a proven track record of success achieved working in a FTSE 100 company.

For 28 years, Andrew worked for Rolls Royce Plc, which has seen him work across the world – including Brazil, Germany and Singapore. Most notably Andrew’s role as Chief Financial Officer and Head of Staff for Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace saw him successfully lead the Finance, Commercial, Compliance, Risk and I.T functions globally for the £8bn turnover business with 24,000 employees.

Since 2018, Andrew has held a number of non-executive positions, including Evolution Power Tools and Board Member and Chair of Audit Committee at Nottingham City Homes and Nottingham College.

Term of office: 01.08.2021 – 31.07.2025 (first term)

Thomas Frawley

Thomas Frawley CBE

Tom Frawley graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1971 joining NHS as a Graduate Trainee in the same year. In 1973 he was appointed Units Administrator of the Ulster Hospital, a number of other posts followed in the EHSSB. In 1980 he was appointed District Administrator for Londonderry, Limavady and Strabane District. In 1982 he was appointed Chief Administrator of the Western Board. In 1985 with the introduction of General Management he was appointed Cx of the Western Board continuing in that post until September 2000 when he was appointed Northern Ireland Ombudsman and Commissioner for Complaints retiring from that post in April 2016. During the period that he was Ombudsman he was elected Vice President of the World Board of the International Ombudsman Institute.

Over his career he has chaired a number of major reviews including chairing the panel of experts who advised on the review of Public Administration (2002), the review of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (1998-2000), and reviews of both the Northern Ireland Training Council and the Central Services Agency. Between 2012-2020 he chaired the Audit & Risk Committee of the Scottish Ombudsman's Office and was a member of the Welsh & Irish Ombudsman's Audit Committees.

Term of office: 01.08.2022 – 31.07.2026 (first term)

Paul Gray

Professor Paul Gray

Professor Paul Gray is an experienced public sector leader at CEO level. Paul was Chief Executive of NHS Scotland and Director General for Health and Social Care in the Scottish Government from 2013 to 2019.

During this time he was responsible for the delivery of health and care services through 22 Health Boards, and partner organisations, with accountability for an annual budget of £13bn and a staffing complement of around 160,000. Paul joined the Civil Service in 1979 and held a number of Director General roles from 2009 until 2019.

Paul is currently an Honorary Professor at the University of Glasgow, and holds a number of other positions in the public and private sectors, including a Senior Faculty Member at the Royal College of Physicians (Edinburgh), a Non-Executive Director with the Care Inspectorate and a lay assistant with the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland. Paul is also a coach and mentor to a number of senior executives.

Paul places a strong emphasis on ethical and compassionate leadership, transparency and collaborative working. Committed to public accountability, he is experienced in leading delivery and change and specialises in public service, ethical leadership and governance.

Term of office: 28.08.2020 – 31.07.2028 (second term)

Julia Goodfellow

Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow DBE CBE 

Julia has had a career in academia with a strong interest in UK higher education and research policy. She studied Physics as an undergraduate but soon moved into biophysics and structural biology undertaking research for a PhD at the Open University Oxford Research Unit. 

After a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University, she moved to Birkbeck, University of London eventually becoming Vice-Master. Her time at the OU and Birkbeck ensures her ongoing commitment to part-time study. In 2002, she was appointed Chief Executive of the BBSRC and in 2007 she moved to the University of Kent as Vice-Chancellor. During this time, she served as a member of the Prime Minster’s council for Science and Technology and was elected the first woman President of Universities UK in 2015.

Since leaving Kent, she has undertaken a number of non-exec positions including chair of Public Health England and President of the Royal Society of Biology. She is currently President of The Biochemical Society and a trustee of HEPI. She received a CBE in 2001 and a DBE in 2010 for service to science.

Term of office: 01.08.2022 – 31.07.2026 (first term)


Nikki Humphrey

Nikki Humphrey is the Chief People Officer for the Virgin Group, Board Director of Virgin Hotels, and Trustee of Virgin Unite foundation. As Chief People Officer, Nikki leads their People strategy including critical areas such as wellbeing, future of work, talent development, human leadership and inclusion. As a member of the Virgin executive team, she enjoys leading and transforming businesses to perform brilliantly with their customers and ensure their people are at the heart of their strategic priorities.

Prior to this role, Nikki was Chief People Officer at John Lewis Partnership and before this, was Chief People Officer at Virgin Atlantic for four years. With 15 years executive and board level experience in retail, banking, insurance, asset management, media, manufacturing, and engineering, her passion lies in helping individuals, teams and businesses flourish. She proudly holds a BSc in Psychology & Politics from Aston University and Chartered member of CPID.

Term of office: 07.09.2023 – 31.07.2027 (first term)

Rashik Parmar

Rashik Parmar MBE

Rashik Parmar is a highly accomplished and respected business leader, currently serving as the Group CEO of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. In this role, he focuses on two primary areas: growing the reputation of the BCS as a trusted source of practical insights into the future of computing and ensuring the effective and efficient running of the organization to deliver its strategic outcomes.

Rashik's extensive experience and expertise span various sectors, and he holds several key positions in addition to his role at BCS. He is a Senior Independent Member and NERC Council Member at UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and a Fellow at Digit Lab, an organization focused on digital innovation and transformation. Rashik is also the Chair of the Board of Trustees at We are IVE, a charity dedicated to helping young people develop creative skills and improve their prospects in the creative industries. Additionally, he serves as a Research Industry Advisory Board Member at Leeds University Business School, providing valuable insights and guidance on research projects.

Rashik's dedication and expertise have been recognised by numerous organizations, and he has received several awards and accolades throughout his career. Including an MBE for service to Business and Innovation as part of the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours. He is highly respected in the UK's technology and business communities and is known for his strategic thinking and innovative approach.

Beyond his professional roles, Rashik is also the Director of Rangoli Radio, a community radio station that serves the South Asian community in the UK. With his diverse background and experience, Rashik brings a unique perspective to his work and is committed to driving positive change in the technology industry to create a world we all want. Further information to follow.

Term of office: 01.08.2022 – 31.07.2026 (first term)

Tevin Tobun

Tevin Tobun

Tevin Tobun is the CEO of Gate Ventures Group (GV), a company he founded in 2001 that focuses on food transportation within the education, social, healthcare, retail and business and industry sectors. GV Group is one of the UK’s leading independently owned food logistics specialists with a global footprint spanning the UK, South America and Africa, and employing over 500 people. 
Tevin is a Patron for the charity Springboard – the biggest independent charity in the hospitality sector that supports people from disadvantaged backgrounds into jobs in the hospitality industry. Tevin also runs The Tobun Foundation. Launched in 2015, the foundation offers four young people from disadvantaged backgrounds yearly funding to support their University studies. The Tobun Foundation also provides bursary support to students on specialist programmes including the United Nations Summer Programme in Geneva.  
Additional to this, Tevin frequently speaks at industry events and sits on a number of Boards for a range of organisations.  
Tevin and GV Group have been recognised amongst the business community through a significant number of nominations and accolades. In 2019 and 2020, Tevin was listed as one of the top 100 most influential Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Executives in the UK, and is also listed by JP Morgan as one of the top 100 most influential black people in the UK in 2020. 

Term of office: 28.08.2020 – 31.07.2028 (second term)

Student members

Margaret Greenaway

Margaret Greenaway
OU Students Association President

Further information to follow.

Term of office: 01.08.2022 – 31.07.2024 (first term)


Matt Porterfield

Matt Porterfield
Student Member on the Council

Matt Porterfield is a law graduate of the OU (2019), currently pursuing a Business Masters. Having left school aged 16 in 1970 he is finally furthering his education in retirement and wishing he had been aware of the OU when it was first launched. With the Students Association, Matt has held the posts of FBL Faculty Representative, VP Administration and has sat on various OU and OUSA committees.

In his working life Matt has had various finance related roles, despite no qualifications, including as a Senior Manager with American Express in Europe where he opened the finance functions in their Hungarian and Russian offices after the demise of the iron curtain. Matt was also involved in restructuring, including as sole company representative seconded to an E&Y Consultants team in New York charged with realising significant efficiency savings. It was another fall, the twin towers in New York, that led to redundancy and a new career with charities.

Matt has been Director of an Age Concern, Finance Director of a Disaster Recovery charity and a Trustee/Treasurer of a Rural Community body as well as Trustee & Treasurer roles with smaller local charities. He has just retired from the role of Justice of the Peace (Crime & Family) after serving for 21 years.

Term of office: 20.09.2023 – 31.07.2025 (first term)

Staff members

Tim Blackman

Professor Tim Blackman, Vice-Chancellor

Professor Tim Blackman has a long and proud association with The Open University and took on the role of Vice-Chancellor in October 2019. Tim served as Acting Vice-Chancellor in 2015 and as Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Scholarship and Quality between 2011 and 2015, when he took up his previous appointment as Vice-Chancellor of Middlesex University.

Tim has extensive and varied leadership experience in higher education.  A graduate of Durham University, he returned to Durham many years later as Professor of Sociology and Social Policy, holding positions as Head of the School of Applied Social Sciences, Director of the Wolfson Research Institute and Dean of the University’s Queen’s Campus in Stockton-on-Tees. He has also served as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law at Teesside University and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law at Oxford Brookes University.

A Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and Royal Society of Arts, and a Trustee of the Legal Education Foundation, Tim has held various appointments as a government advisor and as an assessor for Social Policy & Social Work in the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework exercise.

Sas Amoah

Sas Amoah
Member of the Council

Sas Amoah is OpenLearn’s Senior Rich Media Producer, as the team’s primary AV lead he’s responsible for commissioning and producing most of the video and Audio content produced in the department. Sas leads the team that manages OpenLearn’s YouTube channel; one of the most popular higher education channels on the platform form with 320,000 subscribers and over 70,000,000 million views to date.

Sas is also co-chair of The Open university’s Black and Minority Ethnic Network, a position he’s held for over a decade. In that time, the network has grown significantly and now supports a number of different units across a variety of different initiatives. As part of the EDI workstream within Learner and Discovery Services (LDS)  Sas has worked on policy proposals which after being piloted locally, were later embedded institutionally.

He is also currently a Venue Leader, at Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes, a charity that provides supervised overnight accommodation to homeless and vulnerable people. He’s on the board of trustees for living Archive Milton Keynes, an organisation that preserves and shares the history and heritage of Milton Keynes and was recently appointed to the board of Milton Keynes Gallery as well as being a school governor for Giles Brook School.

Term of office: 01.08.2021 – 31.07.2025 (first term)

Hossam Kassem

Dr Hossam Kassem
Senate Member of the Council

Hossam graduated with a BA in Law from Damascus University, Syria, in 1999. In 2001 he moved to the UK to study LL.M and PhD in Law, at the University of Nottingham and Swansea University respectively. Hossam then Studied PgDip in Law and read for the Bar at the University of Law in London.  He then studied for a PgDip Information Science at UCL.

Hossam has worked within Academic Libraries since 2003, Starting at Swansea University, then UCL, before joining the OU Library In 2018 as a Learning and Teaching Librarian. While working for the OU Library Hossam was the operational lead for the library Live Engagement team, then the Accessibility Team and currently the Academic Liaison Team. Hossam has a special interest in supporting accessibility and ensuring OU disabled students and staff can access the library electronic resources. Hossam closely works with the Library e-content team and e-content publishers to ensure electronic resources are accessible.  The Team’s work benefits disabled users worldwide.

Hossam has been a member of Senate since 2020, he is also the Senate Representative to the EDI Committee.  He is also a member of the OU Core Accessibility Group tasked with forming the OU Institutional Accessibility Strategic Plan..

Term of office: 01.08.2023 – 31.07.2026 (first term)


Tony Cox

AL Elected Member of the Council

Tony’s association with the Open University began as a student in 1989 where after undergraduate studies he gained an MSc in Manufacturing: Management and Technology and an MA in Online and Distance Education. He has worked as an Associate lecturer and Practice Tutor in the Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics since 1999. Tony tutors at all undergraduate levels within the School of Computing and Communications as well as performing a range of consultancy roles.

Tony has worked in software engineering since 1970 (!!!) and has performed all roles within the ICT pantheon (often concurrently) across a broad spectrum of industrial sectors. After extensive experience as a CIO he embraced the challenge of joining a Formula One Racing Team with responsibility for car build programme management and process engineering. As a contrast he also served for 21 years in the reserve army, again performing (and enjoying) a wide variety of roles, rising to second in command of an infantry battalion. He is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the British Computer Society and also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Tony has been actively engaged in staff representation and governance since 2007 and is committed to the OU mission and in particular to improving the student experience. In his spare time Tony enjoys travel, quizzes, theatre and hill walking.

Term of office: 01.07.2023 – 31.07.2024 (first term)

Mary Shek

Mary Shek
Senate Member of the Council

Mary is committed to the OU’s mission as she has benefitted from gaining an MBA and MSc in Business and Management Research Methods as a Mature student at the OU. Mary has a varied career ranging from teaching, nursing, management in the NHS, Local Government, NGO, Social enterprises and charities. She is a Registered Public Health Practitioner and Assessor and a Fellow of High Education Academy.

Her past public and voluntary experience include being a Non-Executive Director of Portsmouth and Isle of Wight Health Authority, founder member of Southampton Chinese Association, Vice Chair of South East Equality Council and Trustee of Sense (deafblind charity). She is passionate about social justice, governance, equity and inclusion.

In her spare time, she enjoys her allotment, travelling and music. As a Council member, she hopes to support the University in offering opportunities and life changing experiences in Higher Education to even more people from diverse background.

Term of office: 01.08.2023 – 31.07.2026 (first term)

Carol Howells

Carol Howells
Senate Member of the Council

Carol is Senior Lecturer in Law, a Faculty Lead for accessibility and Law School Lead for Scotland. She joined the OU in 1998 and led a number of innovative projects including the LLB and LLM programmes which helped place the OU Law School as one of Europe’s largest Law Schools and the largest provider of law graduates in the UK.

During her time at the OU, Carol has gained considerable and wide-ranging experience in curriculum design and development, module production and presentation. As a member of the OU’s pioneering Law School she led the development of the first OU level one module in law and built on this experience to produce access modules in law, OpenLearn materials on the law in Wales and short courses on the law in Scotland. She went on to lead the development of the OU’s first in-house produced undergraduate law degree and the first law postgraduate degree. Along with colleagues in Executive Education she has also worked on external projects including one with the civil service.

Carol’s research interests include the legal systems of the UK, their interaction, historical and contextual development and multi-disciplinary relevancies. She is currently working on projects related to first women lawyers, constitutional reform, the rule of law, inclusivity within the law curriculum, compassion as a legal skill, devolution, citizen engagement and diversity. Her upcoming publications include reflections on the legal history of the Royal Mile, how law is used to shape identities and the constitutional underpinnings and evolving institutional dynamics of the UK nations.

In her spare time Carol serves as a school governor, sails, reads and walks.

Term of office: 01.08.2020 – 31.07.2024 (first term)

Rob Parker

Rob Parker
Senate Member of the Council (Associate Lecturer)

Rob’s journey with the Open University began in nearly two decades ago as a fresh-faced MBA student. Very quickly, the OU ‘got under his skin' and after gaining his qualification, began teaching in the Business School as an Associate Lecturer. Now, Rob teaches across the Undergraduate Business Programme, the CMDA Apprenticeship programme and in the Computing and Communications school.

Outside the OU, Rob runs an IT business providing reporting and data services to large national companies and is active within his community as a Parish Councillor and school governor. He is a certified Chartered Manager and has been active as an AL representative for over eight years.

In his spare time, he is slowly working to complete the Scottish Munros and enjoys playing the piano and church organ.

He ‘hopes that as a member of Council he can contribute to the future success of the University and ensure that it continues to provide life-changing opportunities and experiences for as many people as possible.’

Term of office: 20.10.2020 – 31.07.2026 (second term)

Eileen Scanlon

Professor Eileen Scanlon OBE FAcSS
Senate Member of the Council

Professor Eileen Scanlon is Regius Professor of Open Education and Associate Director of Research and Innovation in the Institute of Educational Technology at The Open University, as well as an Honorary Professor in Moray  House School of Education for the University of Edinburgh.

Eileen has extensive research experience on educational technology projects. Eileen is involved in research projects that explore aspects of digital scholarship to develop open educational resources; investigate science learning in formal and informal settings concentrating on the development of an inquiry learning pedagogy and citizen inquiry; and develop innovative approaches to evaluation of learning (e.g. games based learning and citizen science). Furthermore, Professor Scanlon has published extensively in the field of Technology Enhanced Learning.

Term of office: 01.08.2020 – 31.07.2024 (first term)

Council contacts

Dave Hall

Dave Hall
University Secretary

Dave is the University Secretary and therefore Secretary to the Council. Dave's role is to ensure that the main decision making bodies of the University receive appropriate advice and information on which to base their decisions, that they operate within clear terms of reference and that the processes used for decision making are clear and open.

Camilla Briault

Dr Camilla Briault
Assistant Director, Governance

The Council is supported by a team led by the Assistant Director, Governance, who has overall responsibility for the operation of the Council including membership and reviews of its effectiveness.

Tel: (01908) 332922

Sue Thomas

Sue Thomas 
Working Secretary to the Council

Sue is the Working Secretary for the Council, and is responsible for the management of its meetings and the support of its members.

Tel: (01908) 655083

Suzanne Butler

Suzanne Butler 
Governance Assistant

Suzanne supports the Working Secretary of the Council. Suzanne provides assistance with the preparation of papers and the logistical arrangements for meetings of the Council, Audit Committee, Chairs Committee and the Strategic Planning and Resources Committee.

Tel: (01908) 652023