UCL School of Life and Medical Sciences


Dr Michael Spence AC appointed new UCL President & Provost

18 February 2020

Dr Michael Spence AC, currently Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, has today been confirmed as the new President & Provost of UCL by Council. He will succeed Professor Michael Arthur, who will be stepping down from the role after seven years, in January 2021.


Dr Spence has been Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney since July 2008. Under his leadership, it has risen to first in Australia and fourth in the world for graduate employability. He has embedded diversity and inclusion in the university’s culture, delivered significant investment in multi-disciplinary research activity, transformed the undergraduate experience and created strategic partnerships with leading industry, government and community organisations across the globe.

As Vice-Chancellor, Dr Spence has been responsible for raising a record one billion Australian dollars through the INSPIRED philanthropic campaign - the largest philanthropic campaign in Australian history. This fundraising has 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.

Victor Chu CBE, UCL’s Chair of Council, said: “Dr Spence is widely regarded as one of the most outstanding university leaders in the world and we are delighted that he has accepted the role as the next President & Provost of UCL.

“We were impressed by his unique achievements and track record. Under Dr Spence’s leadership, the University of Sydney has been transformed and is regarded as one of the top universities in the world.

“We look forward to welcoming Dr Spence to UCL, and to working with him to build on the strong position that UCL enjoys following Professor Arthur’s tenure. Professor Arthur and Dr Spence will work closely over the coming months to ensure a smooth transition.”

Dr Spence said: “I am thrilled to be joining UCL. It is, by any measure, a remarkable institution, which is having a real impact on the world through its disruptive academic research. UCL has a proud history and an exciting future. It is an institution which has an important role in a time of great change for the UK and wider world.”

Professor Arthur said: “I have known Dr Michael Spence for many years and I’m absolutely delighted that UCL has been able to attract a candidate of his calibre to be the next President & Provost. His wealth of experience will hugely benefit UCL as it further consolidates its place as an academic powerhouse amongst the world’s leading universities. I look forward to working closely with Michael as he prepares to take up the role in January.”

Under Professor Arthur’s leadership, UCL has risen to eighth in the QS World University Rankings (2020) and secured its position as the most successful institute in collaborative research in Europe.

Professor Arthur has pioneered Transforming UCL, the largest capital programme in the university’s history, which is investing over one billion pounds over ten years to refurbish and develop some of our most iconic buildings. This includes the development of UCL’s new Student Centre (one of only 320 buildings globally to achieve BREEAM’s highest ‘Outstanding’ classification for sustainability), our new campus, UCL East, and the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI) hub.

Professor Arthur has also ensured that UCL is considered a sector-leader on equality, diversity and inclusion, taking a personal lead in this area. Professor Arthur has also launched the It’s All Academic Campaign, UCL’s most impactful philanthropy and engagement campaign to date. Launched in 2016, the Campaign has now reached the £570 million milestone of its £600 million goal, raising vital funds for UCL’s world-impacting research, student support and transformative capital projects.



  • Dr Michael Spence AC