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Julie Ashworth elected as University’s new Senior Governor

Turnout of under six per cent in election for senior University position


By: Anttoni James Numminen


Image courtesy of the University of Aberdeen/Julie Ashworth.


Julie Ashworth has been elected as Senior Governor of the University of Aberdeen (UoA), in an election that saw a turnout of 5.74%.


The position of Senior Governor is one of the most senior roles within UoA, with responsibility for leading the Court (the University’s governing body), as well as sitting on various committees such as Remuneration, and managing the relationship between Court and the Principal and Senior Management Team.


Out of an electorate of 22,388 which includes students and staff, Ashworth received 628 votes which is under three per cent of eligible voters. Runners up for the position were George Yule and Graham Forbes with 392 and 265 votes, respectively.


Ashworth said in her election statement that she was “excited” by the opportunity and ambition of the University’s 2040 strategy, and would bring an energy to “any role I undertake” that was centred on “clear thinking, holding to values and being methodical”.


The new Senior Governor has a background in commercial private sector leadership roles, including Tesco, Punch Taverns, IBM and Liberty of London. Her LinkedIn profile lists her current job title as Managing Director of Broadreach which offers “tangible business solutions” and helps “people and teams thrive working in multiple organisations that range from small start-ups to large multi-nationals.”


Ashworth, who will serve a three-year term of office as Senior Governor, said: “I am absolutely thrilled by the opportunity to lead the Court at the University of Aberdeen.

“I’d like to thank all the staff and students who voted and pay tribute to the other very impressive candidates.”


The previous Senior Governor, Esther Roberton, was in the role for only two years after being appointed in March 2019.


Other advertised positions on their website include the role of Bursar at the Oxford Union as well as Director General of Britain’s foreign intelligence service, MI6.


Recruitment for the position was outsourced by the University to Saxton Bampfylde, a private “executive search and leadership advisor”. Other advertised positions on their website include the role of Bursar at the Oxford Union as well as Director General of Britain’s foreign intelligence service, MI6.


Commenting on the low turnout in elections, a University of Aberdeen spokesperson said: “The candidates in the election for Senior Governor were identified through an open and transparent process and all successfully demonstrated that they met the selection criteria for the role. The election was highlighted across a variety of University channels, where students and staff were encouraged to vote. An open meeting was also held which allowed people to hear directly from the candidates in person.


“We thank all those who took part in the process, including the candidates, and congratulate Julie Ashworth on her success.”


Elections for the role of Rector of the University were also meant to be held this semester but had to be postponed to an absence of candidates.


The Students’ Association (AUSA) has also struggled with low turnout in its elections with fewer than 7% of eligible students voting in this year’s student elections.

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