Malcolm Grant
Higher education conference
Saudi Arabia
May 2019

This is an exciting time for higher education and research. Globally there is intense demand for mass higher education commensurate with the significant growth in middle-class populations in countries undergoing rapid economic development. And there is, equally, a sharp uplift in interest on the part of national governments in the global competitiveness of their leading universities. This address will examine critically the different approaches that are being taken around the world to these two challenges in an era of rapid changing technologies and demographics. Professor Sir Malcolm Grant was born and educated in Oamaru, New Zealand. He studied law at the University of Otago. His early career was as a law professor, first at Southampton University then at UCL. In 1992 he was elected to be the Cambridge Professor of Land Economy, and he remains a Life Fellow and Honorary Fellow of Clare College. He was elected Pro-Vice Chancellor of Cambridge in 2002. Cambridge awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2017. His academic work was mainly in planning, property and local government. For 24 years he was the editor of the Encyclopedia of Planning Law and Practice and he is an honorary fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Royal College of Physicians, and a Bencher of Middle Temple.

In 2003 he returned to UCL as its President and Provost, and led it for 10 years through to 2013, by which time it was regularly ranked in the top 20 universities in the world. He was knighted in 2013 for services to higher education.

In 2011 he was appointed as the founding non-executive Chairman of NHS England, and served a 7-year term through to November 2018. NHS England is the independent body established by the British Parliament and charged with holding the NHS budget (currently around £115bn) and investing it strategically so as to secure significant long-term improvements in healthcare and health outcomes for the population of England, where it provides free healthcare at the point of clinical need to the whole population.

He is currently senior adviser to the President of Arizona State University; Chancellor (a largely honorary position) of the University of York; a member of the International Council on Global Competitiveness of Russian Universities (the 5-100 project of the Russian Federation); chairman of successive panels appointed by the French government to recommend financial allocations to French universities; a director of Genomics England Ltd; chair of the PLuS Alliance Global Advisory Board; a trustee of Somerset House; a Governor of Ditchley and President of the Council for the Assistance of At-risk Academics (CARA).

Previous public service includes a term as chairman of the Russell Group of British research-intensive universities, of the Local Government Commission for England, of the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission (review of government policy and public attitudes to GM crops) and as a member of the University Grants Committee of Hong Kong, of the Social and Economic Research Council and of the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Sir Malcolm is married with 3 children and 5 grandchildren.