Published:
L-R: Professor Gillian Thomson and Professor Fiona Grant.

Two senior academic colleagues have been appointed to new University-wide Associate Principal roles, supporting the delivery of the University’s Strategy in the areas of widening participation and the student learning experience.

I am delighted to welcome Professor Gillian Thomson and Professor Fiona Grant to these new positions. Together with their extensive knowledge and experience in both areas, they bring to the roles a deep and longstanding personal and professional commitment to widening participation and enhancing the student learning experience.

Professor John Sawkins, Deputy Principal (Learning and Teaching)

Professor Gillian Thomson - Associate Principal (Widening Participation)

Professor Gillian Thomson has been appointed as Associate Principal (Widening Participation). This role will support the Deputy Principal (Learning and Teaching) in the delivery of the University’s Widening Participation Strategy as Heriot-Watt continues to focus on setting and achieving ambitious targets in relation to widening participation in higher education.   Professor Thomson will act as the University’s senior academic lead for areas of activity (strategic and operational) in this area, as well as building the University’s external profile and reputation for its work. This is a secondary, part- time role in addition to Professor Thomson’s position as Director of Learning & Teaching in the School of Engineering & Physical Sciences.

Professor Thomson said, “It is essential that we foster student aspirations and support all our students to achieve their own success, across all of our campuses. I look forward to working with colleagues across the University and beyond to achieve the vision set out in our Widening Participation Strategy which sits firmly within the context of Strategy 2025's Building Flourishing Communities. The proposed vision and strategic ambitions are intended to encompass inclusivity and participation in the widest possible sense. This will allow us to implement and deliver the strategy according to our ethos of "One Heriot-Watt" and focus on the success of all of our students, whatever pathway they choose to follow.”

Professor Fiona Grant - Associate Principal (Student Learning Experience)

Professor Fiona Grant has been appointed as Associate Principal (Student Learning Experience). This new University-wide leadership role will support the Deputy Principal (Learning and Teaching) in the delivery of the University’s Learning and Teaching Strategy and the enhancement of the student learning experience globally. Professor Grant takes up this secondary appointment in addition to her role as Director of Learning & Teaching in the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society.

Professor Grant said, “I am extremely excited to take on this pioneering role at a pivotal time of delivering the University Strategy 2025, specifically focusing on our L&T ambitions. Leading and working across the University to enhance and develop the Student Learning Experience is an opportunity I look forward to delivering on, especially working collaboratively with our student population.”

Professor Sawkins, Deputy Principal (Learning and Teaching), said, “I am delighted to welcome Professor Gillian Thomson and Professor Fiona Grant to these new positions. Together with their extensive knowledge and experience in both areas, they bring to the roles a deep and longstanding personal and professional commitment to widening participation and enhancing the student learning experience.”


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