Council and its Sub-committees


As Aston University’s governing body, the Council, has a duty to oversee the University’s development and to assist it to fulfil its primary objectives of teaching and research. Comprising 15 members, with a majority of independent governors (at least one of whom is an Aston graduate), as well as five staff and one student members, it carries ultimate responsibility for the University’s strategic direction, finances, property and human resource and employment policy.  

The Council has specific responsibility for approving the delivery and effectiveness of the University Strategy which sets out the institutional mission and vision, academic aims and objectives and identifies the financial, physical and staffing strategies necessary to achieve them.  

Members of the Council are drawn from a variety of backgrounds including industry, commerce, public service and academia. Independent members of Council play a role similar to that of non-executive directors or trustees of charities, and bring to the University a wide range of commercial and professional skills and expertise, as well as experience of the wider community. They also form a useful sounding board for the Vice-Chancellor and members of the Executive Team and provide valuable advice and help in Aston’s development and management. By becoming a member of the Council whether in an ex officio, independent or academic capacity, the individual concerned agrees to play as full a part as possible in its affairs, including membership of its sub-committees, and to accept the corporate responsibility for the Council’s decisions.   

The Council's Powers are set out in University Statute 5



Dame Yve Buckland, DBE           

Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council


Professor Alec Cameron

Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive


Professor Helen Higson, OBE

Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor


Neil Scott

Chief Operating Officer



Ranjit Dhindsa



Dr Melanie Gibbs*



Dr Toby Lewis*



Sue Noffke*



Dr Rob Perrins**



Dr Vijith Randeniya, OBE*



Dr Jason Wouhra, OBE



Dr Mike Wright*

 Deputy Chair of CounciL




Appointed by the Academic Assembly



Appointed by the Senate



Harry Sheppard

President of the Students’ Union 2020/21



 Professor Gill Nicholls, OBE

Higher Education Adviser to Council



 Saskia Loer Hansen

Deputy Vice Chancellor Engagement


John Walter

Director of Governance, Secretary to Council and Senate


Appointments in Classes 2 and 3 expire on 31st July

* denotes a second full term of office
** denotes an exceptional third term of office

Dr Melanie Gibbs

Melanie Gibbs’ industrial roles, predominantly with Rexam plc, and as a management consultant, have covered most aspects of manufacturing management including development, technical, quality, “comms”, training, production and sales. She particularly enjoyed her time leading process improvement and “Lean” because she hates waste, whether that be of physical resources, time, effort or talents.

She has also held a number of non-executive roles in the public sector, most recently as Chair of South Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust and Vice-Chair of Gloucestershire Police Authority.

Melanie is a Chartered Physicist with a BSc in Chemical Physics and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from University of Bristol. She recently fulfilled a childhood ambition to train as a teacher and now teaches Science and Mathematics at an Islamic secondary school in Gloucester.

Melanie is a member of the University's Audit Committee

Dr Mike Wright

Mike has a diverse, international portfolio of Chair, NED, Remco Chair and Advisor roles in FTSE and North American listed businesses, and in leading Education, Sports, and Arts organisations.

He was an Executive Director of Jaguar Land Rover, retiring in 2016 after making a significant contribution to doubling JLR’s scale since 2008. He held international ExCo-level roles under Tata, Ford, BMW and BAe Systems ownership, spanning strategic, commercial, government affairs and product development disciplines. His responsibilities covered all the major and emerging markets of Europe, US, China, India, and included a 4-year assignment in Germany.

In 2018 Mike was elected to the Uni-Select Inc (Canada) Main Board and became Audit Committee Chair in May 19.  Also in 2018, he was appointed to the Main Board and became Remco Chair of Pendragon plc (UK).

He has wide experience of governmental affairs and currently Chairs the newly formed West Midlands Innovation Board and was previously Chair of the Auto Council-sponsored Automotive Investment Organisation within UK DIT (2016-18), Chair of the West Midlands CBI Council (2014-16), and Director of the Engineering Employers Federation (2011-2017).

His Education, Sports and Arts activities include: WMG Academy Trust Board Chair, Aston University Council, Baker Dearing Education Trust Board, Warwickshire County Cricket Club Board, Wasps Community Foundation Chair, and Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

 Mike was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science by Aston University in 2014.

 Mike is Deputy Chair of the University Council and a member of its Finance and Infrastructure Committee.

Rob Perrins

Rob was educated at Marlborough College, Wiltshire and at Aston University where he gained an honours degrees in Geological Sciences.He joined The Berkeley Group in 1994, having qualified as a chartered accountant with Ernst & Young in 1991. He was appointed to the Group Main Board in May 2001, becoming Group Finance Director shortly after. In September 2009, he rose to the top of the company, becoming Managing Director of the Berkeley Group.In 2010, Rob devised and launched a major new 10 year plan for the company. This set out a strategy to make Berkeley one of the most successful and sustainable businesses in Britain. It focused the whole company on four key goals and commitments to the quality of service and product Berkeley would deliver. Under Rob’s management, the Berkeley Group has earned a reputation for outstanding commercial performance and the ability to create beautiful homes in sustainable homes in sustainable places where people want to live. In 2014, Berkeley sustained 21,000 jobs across Britain and contributed £1.4 billion to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product.

Rob is a member of the University's Finance and Infrastructure Committee.

Sue Noffke

After graduating from Aston University with a degree in Business Administration and Biochemistry in 1989, Sue Noffke joined Schroders (the British multinational asset management company) as a UK equity analyst. Sue spent the first three years of her investment career covering various sectors including insurance and general retail. Since 1993, Sue's role has been UK equity manager for a number of Schroders institutional clients. She has also been an Associate Member of the Institute of Investment Management and Research since 1992. Sue is co-manager of the both the Schroder Prime UK Equity Fund (since 2006) and the Schroder UK Core Fund (launched in March 2011). Sue became lead fund manager of the Schroder Income Growth Fund in July 2011.

The Telegraph referred to Sue as “The UK’s leading female Fund Manager”, in 2011. That same year, financial analysts Citywire said that “Sue Noffke is the best female fund manager in the business”.

Sue was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Aston University in April 2014. Sue is a member of the University’s Nominations and Remuneration Committee.

Dr Vij Randeniya, OBE

Vij graduated with a degree in Modern History in 1981. He joined London Fire Brigade two years later and spent 15 years serving at some of the UK’s busiest fire stations including Brixton and Whitechapel before moving to Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service as Head of Operations.
In 2000, Vij was promoted to West Midlands Fire Service as Assistant Chief Officer and in 2003 to Deputy Chief Fire Officer. He was appointed as Chief Fire Officer in March 2009. He served as Chief Fire Officer for West Midlands Fire Service from November 2008 – November 2013.

He has a Master’s Degree in Management and is a Member of the Institute of Fire Engineers. Vij was awarded an OBE in 2006 and an honorary Doctorate of Science by Aston University in 2010. 

He has been a visiting lecturer at both the Defence Academy at Shrivenham in Oxfordshire and the National Police Improvement Agency training centre at Ryton in Warwickshire.

Vij was appointed to the Board of Governors of Birmingham Metropolitan College in July 2010 and became Chairman of the Board from September of the same year. Vij was elected to the Chief Fire Officers Association Presidential Team in August 2010, and served as President from September 2012-2013. He was appointed as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice in June 2014.

Vij is Chair of the University's Nominations and Remuneration Committee.

Ranjit Dhindsa

Ranjit studied for the BA Honours International Relations and Third World Development at the University of York from 1986-1989, and the CPE and LSE at Nottingham Trent University Law School from 1990-1992. She was accredited as a Mediator for Workplace Disputes in 2007.

Ranjit is currently the UK Head of EPIC (Employment, Pensions, Immigration  and Compliance), at Fieldfisher which is a £250m turnover European law firm with offices in Silicon Valley and China. Ranjit’s office is based across three locations in the UK - London, Birmingham and Manchester. Ranjit has experience of running law firms – both start-ups, boutiques and large ones. This includes developing a vision and strategy.

Ranjit has over 20 years' experience as an employment lawyer, including being an owner and director of a business, and is currently a member of the firm's Executive Committee.  Ranjit is a trusted business advisor for a number of clients in different industry sectors, many of whom she has worked with since she first qualified as a lawyer. Whilst providing advice on all aspects of employment law, Ranjit has a particular focus on helping businesses manage change - be it setting up a new office in the UK or abroad, dismissing employees, restructuring, or managing relationships with trade unions and works councils.  Ranjit is regularly invited by clients to undertake bespoke training on a wide range of topics, and often provides training alongside specialists in areas which overlap with employment law, such as medical experts.

Ranjit also has more than 10 years' experience as a legal advisor to a well-known university. This included advisory work, dealing with disputes, exits and litigation as well as governance and compliance issues.

In 2013 Ranjit helped form Equal Pay Legal Limited which is a business based solely in Birmingham, assisting individuals who have suffered equal pay discrimination.

Ranjit is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association (having previously been the Midland's representative), the Industrial Law Society, and the Discrimination Law Association.

Ranjit is a member of the University Audit Committee.

Toby Lewis

Toby Lewis was born in the East Midlands and returned to the area with his young family when appointed as Chief Executive of City and Sandwell Hospitals in April 2013.  Educated at Oxford and London universities, his academic background is in psychology and leadership, and he completed the Top Manager’s Programme with the King’s Fund, as well as executive education on improving quality in healthcare systems at Harvard.

In addition to leading a £450m, 7500 employee, organisation, he chairs the Clinical Research Network Partnership Board for the West Midlands, serves in two health and wellbeing boards with Local Authorities, and is one of two CEO representatives on the regional clinical senate oversight group.  These roles reflect an abiding career interest in preventative medicine, research and innovation, and in clinical leadership.  Since 2013 the Trust, under Toby’s leadership, has been praised by Public Health England for its work on population health and the health and wellbeing of employees.  It has also secured investment to develop a three year leadership programme, and has published a long term research strategy, linked to local primary care.

Toby is Chair of the University’s Audit Committee