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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

Our Leadership Team

​​​​​​​​​​​Our Executive is responsible for making sure that we continuously enhance the quality and standards of UK higher education at home and abroad. We support higher education providers, students and policy makers by sharing our knowledge, resources and expertise to help meet future challenges.

Our Executive

Douglas Blackstock, Chief Executive

​Douglas has been QAA’s Chief Executive since October 2015. His work includes leading QAA’s contribution to the current changes to the policy, regulatory and quality landscape in England and across the UK, and QAA's role in developing the Teaching Excellence Framework alongside other sector partners.

Douglas joined QAA in 2002 and was previously Director of Resources, Chief Operating Officer and Company Secretary. He led QAA's work on student engagement for a number of years, and was a member of the NUS & UUK-led Student Charter Group and subsequent Fram​ework for Partnership Group. He is active in the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), and chaired the ENQA Staff Development Group.

Douglas Blackstock's Connections

Current connections with HE institutions (other than employment): Trustee, Edinburgh University Students’ Association

Connections with professional and subject-based bodies: Member, AUA and UCU

Connections with other bodies: Director and Secretary, QAA Enterprises Limited; Chair, ENQA Staff Development Group

Ian Kimber, Director of Universities, Quality Enhancement and Standards


Ian joined QAA in February 2015. He leads on engagement with universities and services for subscribers, including enhancement, and oversees QAA’s stewardship of the Quality Code and associated external quality reference points.He also leads on QAA’s innovation and enterprise activity.

Ian came to QAA from the Australian Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). He developed TEQSA’s regulatory and quality assurance processes, before being appointed Executive Director, Regulation and Review, a position he held for three years. He was previously Executive Director of the Office of Higher Education for the State Government of Queensland for seven years, and during this time had responsibility for the regulation of vocational education and training and non-state schools.

Ian Kimber's connections

Current connections with HE institutions (other than employment): None

Connections with professional and subject-based bodies: None

Connections with other bodies: None

Will Naylor, Director of Colleges and Alternative Providers

Will leads on QAA’s relationships with further education colleges and alternative providers and their representative bodies. He is also responsible for Degree Awarding Powers scrutiny, the regulation of Access to Higher Education Diplomas, reviews for specific course designation and educational oversight and the delivery of some of the contracts which QAA has been awarded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Will joined QAA in 2006, became a Deputy Director in 2011 and was appointed as Director of Quality Assurance in autumn 2014. Before QAA he worked for the Higher Education Funding Council for England as senior policy officer for research funding and leadership. He holds a master’s degree in Advanced Historical Studies from Newcastle University.​

Will Naylor's connections

Current connections with HE institutions (other than employment):  Relative employed at University of Ulster; Graduate of Newcastle​ University

Connections with professional and subject-based bodies: None

Connections with other bodies: None

Rowena Pelik, Director of Nations and International


Rowena is responsible for QAA’s work in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and internationally. Within the UK, her role is to promote the interests and meet the particular needs of each of the UK’s home nations; internationally it is to provide strategic oversight of the engagement of QAA, on behalf of UK HE, to support the interests of UK HE globally, to ease participation in established and emerging TNE markets and ensure that the quality and excellence of UK HE is recognised throughout the world.

Before joining QAA in 2014 Rowena was Director of Academic Strategy and Practice at Edinburgh Napier University. She previously worked at the University of Salford as Director of Academic Quality and Standards. She began her academic career teaching Design History and Cultural Studies at a number of institutions, and became Head of the School of Art and Design at Salford before taking up her Directorship there. She has also been a member of a number of QAA and UUK advisory groups, including the Finch Review of external examining arrangements.

Rowena Pelik's connections  

Current connections with HE institutions (other than employment): None

Connections with professional and subject-based bodies: None

Connections with other bodies: Director, SCQF Partnership

Liz Rosser, Director of Resources 

Liz is responsible for the strategic management of QAA's resources, a wide remit which includes information management and infrastructure, financial management, planning and performance management, funding negotiations and people and organisational development.

Liz served as Head of Finance from 2002 to 2011 and as Head of Finance and Planning from 2011 to 2015.
Prior to QAA, Liz worked at Sayer Vincent, a firm of accountants providing audit and advisory services to a range of charities and not for profit organisations, where she managed a portfolio of charity clients. She is a Chartered Accountant and a Chemistry graduate from the University of St. Andrews.

Liz Rosser's connections

Current connections with HE institutions (other than employment): None

Connections with professional and subject-based bodies: Member of ICAEW

Connections with other bodies: Governor, Leckhampton C of E Primary School, Treasurer, Cheltenham General Hospital Intensive Care Trust

Senior Leadership Team

Lavinia Blackett, Head of Governance and Executive Office

Lavinia joined QAA in November 2015 and is responsible for the governance of the organisation. The governance team ensures the effective administration of the QAA Board and its committees, and that QAA operates efficiently and in accordance with all legal and regulatory requirements.

Lavinia previously worked at the Royal College of Surgeons of England where she held a number of standard-setting and governance roles. Lavinia is an Associate Member of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators and is a biology graduate from the University of York.

​​​Gareth Crossman, Head of Policy and Public Affairs

Gareth joined QAA in October 2016. He is responsible for QAA’s policy, public affairs and media relations work.

Gareth originally practiced as a solicit​or specialising in criminal defence advocacy. He has also worked as a journalist. In 2002 he was appointed as the first Policy Director at Liberty, the UK’s leading human rights and civil liberties campaigning organisation. He specialised in developing organisational policy relating to counter-terrorism, privacy and surveillance, criminal justice, extradition and anti-social behaviour. Gareth left Liberty in 2009 to join TACT, the UK’s largest fostering and adoption children’s charity. He was recruited as the Executive Director of Policy, Communications and Fundraising to set up a new department responsible for raising awareness of issues facing children in care and campaigning for change to national policy. He was also responsible for organisational fundraising and marketing. Gareth’s most recent role was as Director of OCD Action, a mental health charity providing services and support by people affected by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.​

​Fiona Crozier, Head of International

Fiona is responsible for QAA’s international strategic engagement and review work, and for in country reviews of UK transnational education. The international team represents QAA on international forums and partnerships.​

Fiona fist joined QAA in 1998. From 2013-15 she worked as Director of Quality at University College Cork, before returning to QAA in her current role. Her experience ranges from policy development, design and implementation of review methods, and the management of reviews. She was responsible for the drafting of the revised Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area. Fiona was Vice-President of the ENQA Board from 2009-13, and is a panel chair for ENQA reviews of quality assurance agencies across Europe.​

Ailsa Crum, Head of Quality and Enhancement Scotland


​​Ailsa’s role is to lead and manage QAA's review, enhancement and engagement work in Scotland. She is responsible for the development and delivery of the Enhancement-led Institutional Review method and for overseeing the delivery of the Enhancement Themes.

Ailsa joined QAA in 1998, becoming Head of Reviews in 2012. She introduced innovative elements, including the ‘Focus On’ projects, with groups of institutions working collaboratively to enhance policy and practice. Ailsa previously worked at what is now Universities Scotland and at the Robert Gordon University. She is a graduate in Economics and Politics from the University of Aberdeen, and more recently has developed a keen interest in creative writing, this year completing a PhD in English Literature from the University of Glasgow. Ailsa also has a postgraduate diploma in management.​

Julian Ellis, Head of Assurance


​Julian has overall responsibility for QAA’s work with alternative providers. He will oversee three of the four new contracts with HEFCE, and lead on Degree Awarding Powers and University Title, QAA’s contract with the General Osteopathic Council, the Concerns scheme and Access to HE.

Before joining QAA, Julian taught Political Studies and International Relations at Bristol University, the University of the West of England, and the Open University. He was awarded his PhD in International Relations in 2000.

​Maureen McLaughlin, Head of Universities and Standards

Maureen has overall responsibility for the development and delivery of quality enhancement activities for the university sector, and engagement with universities. She also oversees the work associated with the maintenance of the standards framework and external reference points for quality assurance.

Maureen has worked in the further and higher education sector since 1989, holding senior positions in five UK universities. She first joined QAA in 2009 and has led on the training and development of reviewers, including leading on the introduction of student reviewers in England and Northern Ireland. From 2014-15 she was Dean of Quality and Standards at the University of Gloucestershire, rejoining QAA as Head of Engagement to lead on working with institutions, students, professional bodies and employers/industry.

​Professor Gai Murphy, Head of Quality Design and Designation

Gai joined QAA at the end of June 2017. Her role is to lead on quality design in response to the Higher Education and Research Act 2017.

Before joining QAA, Gai worked in higher education as an academic and a Pro-Vice-Chancellor for both the University of Salford and the University of Central Lancashire, leading on teaching and learning and student experience. She was awarded a personal chair in 2011. She is particularly interested in student involvement in quality and the impact of quality design in the retention and progression of students. Gai has been a QAA reviewer since 2009 and a member of three UK Higher Education Academy Working Groups. She is a graduate of Queen's University Belfast and was awarded a PhD in Zoology from Manchester University.

For more information about the work of the directorate download our annual reports: