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  4. University Secretary: Dr Jonathan Nicholls

University Secretary: Dr Jonathan Nicholls


The University Secretary is responsible for the effective governance of the University and for ensuring that the Professional Services are effectively and efficiently managed to meet University objectives. This entails membership of the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive, acting as secretary of Council and Senate, overseeing the work of the OU in the devolved nations of the UK, and the management of units responsible for: strategic and resource planning, student and associate lecturer support services, academic policy and quality assurance processes, and central administrative services including Finance, Human Resources, Estates (via HR) and Information Technology. 


Prior to joining the OU, Jonathan Nicholls was Director of Strategic and Policy Services (Education) for Shakespeare Martineau LLP (February 2017 to June 2018). Before that he was the Registrar at the University of Cambridge for nine years, and before that the Registrar and Secretary at the University of Birmingham and Registrar at the University of Warwick, where he started his career and spent 21 years. He has considerable experience of the leadership of large, complex organisations delivering services in finance, human resources, IT, estates, academic administration, and governance. Jonathan served as Deputy Chair and then Chair of the Association of Heads of University Administration, and has been a member of JNCHES and the Joint Negotiation Committee of USS. He has also served as a governor of schools (including being a founding governor of the University of Cambridge Primary School), and was, for nine years, a governor and chair of the governors’ Nomination and Remuneration Committee of the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Commenting on his appointment Jonathan said:

The Open University is a great university, transforming millions of students’ lives. As a parent, I know the difference that the OU can make. My step-son recently completed an MA in Philosophy at the OU, and was enthusiastic and proud of the support he received. I am hugely excited and honoured to join the OU at this time, and help Mary and all the staff and students in the OU during this important time of transition.