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Just 25 per cent of college chairs in Scotland were women as of October 2020, according to Colleges Scotland, despite women making up 61 per cent of the college workforce.
Argyll College UHI is helping to buck that trend by appointing Dr Rosemary Allford as the new chairperson of its board.
This change comes as Andrew Campbell retires from his nine-year tenure in the post, having served on the board since 2010.
Dr Allford, a lecturer in entrepreneurship at Edinburgh Napier University, is a specialist in employability and collaboration, and a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
She is a highly experienced professional within the university and college sectors, combining excellent collaborative practice, academic leadership and project management.
Dr Allford has a portfolio career with previous roles as a consultant in academic practice with the Higher Education Academy, the University of Wolverhampton and as a head of school, Carnegie College.
She first joined the Argyll College board in June 2020. She served as a member of the learning, teaching and engagement committee and was elected as chair on December 10 2021.
‘It is an exciting time to be part of Argyll College UHI,’ said Dr Allford. ‘We are in a favourable situation as both part of the national Scottish college network and integral to the UHI partnership.
‘This presents us with wonderful opportunities for partnership working and collaborative development.’
Argyll College already has very strong and healthy relationships with partners across Scotland, enabling it to create a sustainable curriculum.
The college works with Dundee and Angus and Borders colleges in the delivery of higher education horticulture qualifications and has recently joined forces with UHI partners West Highland and North Highland colleges to develop further education provision, the delivery of which is now shared by the three teaching teams.
Dr Allford admits to being more of a city-dweller at heart, so what attracted her to Argyll College UHI?
‘Argyll is a small college which allows it to be relatively fleet-of-foot,’ she said. ‘In common with other smaller institutions, being an active member of the board here allows me to be much nearer to the ‘chalk face’, closer to the learner and the student experience.
‘For me, that connection with staff and with the student body, is the real driver.
‘I envisage a more joined-up, collaborative and participative approach to service delivery being at the core of our strategy as we grow and develop.’
In the coming months, Covid restrictions allowing, Dr Allford plans to tour the 10 learning centres which constitute the college estate, and which are located across Argyll.
‘I’d like to get out to meet staff and students and understand the obstacles and opportunities that come with delivering tertiary education in one of the most geographically challenging areas of Scotland,’ she said.
Argyll and Bute is the second largest local authority area in Scotland and has the fourth sparsest population of all 32 Scottish local authorities; 43 per cent of the region’s population live in areas classified as ‘remote rural’ and more than 15,000 of them live on islands.
‘I am very much looking forward to seeing the diverse nature of the different learning centres, and how staff there meet their community needs,’ said Dr Allford.
Alongside the election of a new chair, five new non-executive board members have been appointed to lead on the strategic development of the college.
These new members have extensive experience in finance, public policy and public affairs, human resources, travel and tourism, and hospitality industries.
‘It is a great honour to take over as chair, and it is a tremendous pleasure to work with a strong board, who have such a wealth of professional experience, many of whom bring first-hand knowledge of Argyll,’ said Dr Allford. ‘We are fortunate to have many complementary skills on the board and together we are committed to providing quality learning opportunities for the people of Argyll.’