Meet our Members: Dr Amanda Wilcox, York St John University

Dr Amanda Wilcox talks about her broad and varied role as University Secretary at York St John University.

What is your higher education history?

I feel like I have been in higher education in one form or another for most of my life. After my degree I did a PhD and then a postdoc, before moving to teach and then manage higher education in the further education sector. During this time I also started working for QAA as a reviewer.

From there I moved back into a university, where I was Academic Registrar and then the Strategic Adviser to the Pro Vice Chancellors. I then moved to HEFCE as their Regional Consultant for Yorkshire, the Humber and the North East of England. When HEFCE was dissolved last March I moved to the Office for Students to lead on the development of their Student Engagement Strategy. Then, in August, was delighted to move to York St John as the University Secretary.

What does your current role and remit encompass?

The role is quite broad: it has oversight of all of the University’s legal and compliance functions, academic registry and our school’s administration unit and human resources.

What does a typical day look like for you in your role?

My days vary quite a lot. Today I have been in quite a few internal meetings and catch ups with my staff, tomorrow I am interviewing all day, and yesterday I was in our weekly Executive Board meeting. But it’s not all meetings – last week we had our graduation ceremonies in at York Minster and I had the pleasure of sponsoring one of our Honorary Graduates.

What do you find most enjoyable and most challenging in your role?

The most enjoyable thing is the variety of the role and the projects I am able to get involved with. The most challenging thing is to make sure that I can add some value and help to bring about change at a strategic level and not get sucked into operational issues too much of the time.

What are the current challenges for your institution?

As with many institutions, I think that our greatest challenge is to remain financially  sustainable in light of increasing competition for student numbers and potential changes to student fees income

What do you think are the biggest changes ahead for higher education?

The two big things on the horizon are inevitably the potential impact of the Augar review recommendations and Brexit, both of which are currently unknown. With all of the negative press that there has been about universities recently,  we need to think about how we communicate with society so that the huge benefits that we offer are better articulated to a broad audience

Who has inspired you and why?

I am inspired every day. Honestly I am. I have been exceptionally lucky throughout my career to work with brilliant and inspiring leaders; a diverse, funny, articulate and highly intelligent group of staff and of course, students – who are, at the end of the day, the reason we do all of this.