About the President & Provost v2
Biography: Dr Michael Spence
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- Dr Michael Spence AC joined UCL as President & Provost in January 2021, joining the university from the University of Sydney where he was Vice-Chancellor from 2008 to 2020.
Since arriving, he has led a year-long university-wide consultation to develop the UCL Strategic Plan 2022-27, which sets out UCL’s priorities and ambitions for the next five years in order to strengthen the excellence of UCL’s education, research and innovation, underpinned by a robust financial strategy and improvement of the processes and services that underpin academic excellence. Work to implement the plan is now underway.
In his first years at UCL, he has led the university through the complexities of reopening campus following the end of Covid lockdowns and the transition from online back to in-person learning for a global community. He has also overseen the opening of UCL East, UCL’s major new campus in East London, in September 2022, building key strategic relationships with local government, businesses and community organisations in that area.
As a long-standing proponent of universities as crucibles for debate and dialogue, he has established himself as a leading voice within the UK and beyond promoting the art of ‘disagreeing well’, and is spearheading a new programme of activities shortly to launch at UCL which will explore approaches to developing the skill of constructive debate around challenging issues.
As Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, he led the university’s rise to first in Australia and fourth in the world for graduate employability. He was responsible for raising a record one billion Australian dollars through the INSPIRED philanthropic campaign, which 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.
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 headed Oxford’s Law faculty and Social Sciences division.
An alumnus of the University of Sydney, Dr Spence has a BA with first-class honours in English, Italian and Law. His other languages include Chinese and Korean.
In 2017, Dr Spence was named a Companion of the Order of Australia in recognition of his service to the higher education sector and in 2018 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales.
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