UCL News


UCL welcomes new President & Provost Dr Michael Spence

11 January 2021

Dr Michael Spence AC has become the new President and Provost of UCL. He takes up the position today after moving to London from his home in Australia, where he had been the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney since July 2008.

Dr Michael Spence

Dr Spence is recognised internationally as a leader in the field of intellectual property theory and holds a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Oxford, where he previously headed Oxford’s Law faculty and Social Sciences division. An alumnus of the University of Sydney, he has a BA with first-class honours in English, Italian and Law. His other languages include Chinese and Korean.

In a video message to staff and students to mark his first day at UCL, Dr Spence praised the “extraordinary expertise” of the university in its contribution to the fight against COVID-19. He went on to outline his aspirations as London and the UK emerge from the pandemic.

Dr Spence said: “UCL is London’s first and most comprehensive university and is playing a leading role in enriching and reshaping both the capital and the UK’s standing in the world. I’m incredibly excited to be joining this remarkable community. UCL has a deep commitment to its students and the communities it serves in so many creative and innovative ways. The challenge now is to build upon - and ensure the sustainability of – its excellent work.”

The new President and Provost says his first mission will be to listen to the aspirations of students and staff, to understand what they value about UCL and also what they perceive as its challenges.

Under Dr Spence’s leadership, the University of Sydney rose to first in Australia and fourth in the world for graduate employability. As its Vice-Chancellor, he embedded diversity and inclusion in the university’s culture, transformed the undergraduate experience and created strategic partnerships with leading industry, government and community organisations across the globe. In 2017 he was awarded one of Australia’s highest honours, the Companion of Order (AC), for his services to education.

Dr Spence was also responsible for raising a record one billion Australian dollars through the INSPIRED philanthropic campaign - the largest campaign of its type in Australian history. This fundraising transformed the university’s campus by funding major new research and education centres, bringing resources to life-changing medical research and providing more than 2,000 scholarships and education initiatives for new and existing students.

Looking ahead to his vision for UCL, Dr Spence paid tribute to his predecessor Professor Michael Arthur, who is standing down after seven years in the role, for his tremendous legacy and leadership, especially throughout the phenomenal challenges of the last year.

Dr Spence also thanked the wider UCL community for making the institution the place he is both proud and excited to make his new home, along with his wife, Jenny, and the four youngest of his eight children.



  • Dr Michael Spence AC

Media contact

Kirsty Walker

Tel: +44 (0)20 3108 6086 or +44 (0)7768 446167

Email: kirsty.walker@ucl.ac.uk