NCUK announces new Chief Executive


As NCUK enters its next phase of widening access to higher education for international students, Stuart Smith has been appointed as its new Chief Executive. Stuart joins NCUK from his position as Director of International at the University of Hertfordshire and will be taking up the role in early August 2021.

Stuart Smith

Stuart Smith BA Hons, MA, has held roles such as Director of International, Head of International and Head of Student Recruitment at UK Universities and for private education providers, brings a wealth of commercial and international experience from within the Higher Education Sector.

Stuart joins NCUK at an exciting time having recently published its 2019/20 Year in Review which saw a 15% increase in students progressing to university despite the global pandemic.

Professor John Brewer, who will soon come to the end of his two-year fixed-term tenure as Chief Executive, says:

At the start of the pandemic, we set out to offer continuity during times of great uncertainty. It’s a credit to the quality of NCUK staff and our Partners that all students were supported to complete their qualifications, and a record number took up their place at university. On behalf of everyone at NCUK, thank you to all our stakeholders, students and Partners.

Stuart will now lead NCUK through its ambitious growth plans by enhancing the strength of its network and creating more opportunities for international students to progress to NCUK Universities worldwide.


New NCUK Non-Executive Directors

NCUK is also pleased to announce the four new Non-Executive Directors who have been appointed to the NCUK Board, with Jan Ward CBE the new Chair-designate replacing Neil McLean CBE at the end of July.

  • Jan Ward CBE

Jan is a highly experienced NED and founder of an international manufacturing business. She brings expertise in international trade, growth, strategy and corporate governance to NCUK’s Board and is a panellist for the prestigious Queen’s Award for International Trade.

  • Dr. Arfan Ismail

Arfan is a thought leader in digital education with extensive leadership experience in public and private education in the UK and the Middle East. Arfan’s is currently Head of Digital Learning at Blackpool and the Fylde College and his experience in leveraging digital technologies will support NCUK’s digital transformation.

  • Professor Carl Stychin

Carl is a professor of Law and Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of London with extensive academic, leadership and legal experience in Higher Education in the UK, USA and Canada. Carl will oversee NCUK’s robust quality assurance processes as chair of our Academic Quality Board.

  • Michael Bartlett

Michael has 20 years’ experience in commercial, international education and has led the development of many highly successful international pathway partnerships. He now leads an educational consultancy and brings expertise in transnational education, market strategy and market entry to NCUK, with a particular specialism on Asia.

Neil Mclean CBE says:

As I come to the end of my tenure as Chair, it has been a genuine honour to see the network grow from strength to strength, and I strongly believe that NCUK will continue to thrive in its mission of helping international students progress to university. I welcome the new members to the Board and wish everyone associated with NCUK a strong and prosperous future.

Interested in joining NCUK’s Global Network? Click here