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Time to unlock Bradford’s potential, says new chair of university council


Eileen Milner

The University of Bradford - and in particular its students - will play a key role in unlocking the potential of the city and district over the coming decade - so says Eileen Milner, the newly appointed Chair of the University’s Council.

Eileen, who recently took up her new role (replacing outgoing chair the Rt Hon Baroness Ann Taylor), said she believed now was the time for Bradford to ‘seize the moment’.

Speaking about her new role at the university, she said: “The University of Bradford has a really impressive history in terms of its teaching and research, and I think in many ways it is a pathfinder, so I think we need to make more of those successes, and be confident about who we are. I think Bradford as an area has so much potential, we just need to unlock it.

“This is such an exciting time for us to do that, with us winning City of Culture 2025, and I think the university has a key role to play in terms of supporting the city and region as a whole. It will require hard work, imagination and confidence. 

“Having previously been employed in the public sector, commercial sector and higher education, one thing I have learned from working in all those areas is that organisations have to be purposeful, they have to have ambition, because this galvanises support.”

About Eileen

She grew up in Cornwall and was the first person in her family to go to university, studying English literature at Aberystwyth University. She says that although moving away from home meant she never returned, the experience was life-changing because of the opportunities it opened up.

Eileen is the former chief executive and accounting officer of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) - where she was responsible for a budget of some £63bn - supporting the education and skills landscape in England, and is a former executive director at the Care Quality Commission. Most recently, she was chief executive of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. She will now focus on a small number of non-executive roles about which she cares about passionately.

The University’s council as the University’s governing body has a collective responsibility to ensure that the University’s overall mission and strategy are delivered through an effective framework of governance. 

Her new role

Her new role as chair of the University’s council effectively means she will oversee the work of Vice-Chancellor Professor Shirley Congdon, who is in the middle of implementing the university’s ambitious five-year strategy.

“We prepare students for a world that has changed, in some ways dramatically. It is our responsibility to ensure that when they graduate, they have the skills to support increased productivity needed by employers, and that they have an understanding of sustainability in all of its many forms - that makes the university’s mission so relevant to our times.”

“People are passionate about working at the university and they are committed to ensuring students have the best experience. I’d like to see the university’s council making a meaningful contribution to the improvement of the university, while working with the executive and Professor Congdon.”

She added: “The University will turn 60 during my tenure, so I think that is a good milestone that we can focus upon. In a world filled with challenges, and for a generation growing up with uncertainty, education is more important than ever, especially for an institution such as this with its proud history and deep roots. We have an opportunity to build on what we have achieved in the last 60 years, and to ensure the next 60 are even more impactful.”