Queen Mary appoints first vice-principal for inclusion

Queen Mary University of London has created the role to support its ambition to be the most inclusive research university in the world

Queen Mary University of London has appointed its first ever vice-principal for people, culture and inclusion.

Sheila Gupta will assume the role in January 2020 and offer leadership across all areas of the student and staff experience.

The position underpins Queen Mary’s (QMUL) Strategy 2030 to be the most inclusive research-intensive university in the world.

In 2006, Ms Gupta was awarded an MBE for services to higher education and became a Leadership Foundation fellow for HE. She was previously worked at the universities of Sussex, Cambridge and Edinburgh.

This role offers an exceptional opportunity to contribute to delivering a truly transformative vision and one that has particular personal resonance – Sheila Gupta

On her appointment, Ms Gupta said: “For me, this role offers an exceptional opportunity to contribute to delivering a truly transformative vision and one that has particular personal resonance.”

President and principal of QMUL, Prof Colin Bailey, said: “This is a vital appointment for Queen Mary. As a university we are incredibly proud of the diversity of our students and staff, and Sheila’s experience will help ensure our student and staff body is at the heart of everything we do to help ensure we fulfil our ambition of becoming the most inclusive university of its kind.”


Read more: British universities ‘oblivious’ to high levels of racial abuse


The new inclusion chief will be charged with delivering a new People Strategy, changing organisational culture and a new equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives.

According QMUL’s latest access and participation plan, 60% of its domestic students are black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and 42% are the first in their family to go into higher education. Just over a quarter of students are from households where the annual taxable income is less than £10k.

The attainment gap between BAME and white students has dropped from 18% in 2012/13 to 10% in 2017/18; QMUL aims to half this gap within the next five years.

According to QMUL’s own data, the university recruits more students from Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnicities as a proportion of its student body but does not recruit enough students of Black Caribbean and Black African ethnicities.

In its 2024/25 plan submitted to the Office for Students (OfS), QMUL made tackling high drop-out rates a key priority.  Last year, over 11% of students dropped out, putting the university way above the Russell Group average.

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