Skip to main content

Sir Alan Langlands FRSE Hon FMedSci

Vice-Chancellor, University of Leeds

(Elected 2014)

Alan Langlands is the twelfth Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds. He also chairs the board of N8, a collaboration between the research-intensive universities in the north of England. Between 2009 and 2013 he was the Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

He was formerly the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee (2000-2009) and Chief Executive of the NHS in England (1994-2000). He has a particular interest in the scientific basis of health services, and, from its inception in 2004 until 2012, he chaired the board of UK Biobank, a major genetic epidemiology study funded principally by The Wellcome Trust and The Medical Research Council. He continues to chair the board of the Health Foundation, a UK-wide charity committed to improving the quality of healthcare.

Knighted in 1998 for his services to the NHS, Sir Alan is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and an Honorary Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

He is a science graduate of the University of Glasgow and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University in 2001. He also has honorary doctorates from the Universities of Dundee and Edinburgh and the National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, India. In recognition of his contributions to healthcare and professional education, he has been awarded Honorary Fellowships by the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (Glasgow), the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, the Faculty of Public Health Medicine, the Institute of Actuaries and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance.

He said: ‘I have long been impressed by Birkbeck’s pioneering role in adult education for working people. Its founder, George Birkbeck, was a professor of natural philosophy at the Andersonian Institute in my home town of Glasgow, and Birkbeck was founded in the Anderson tradition of a liberal education at the forefront of applied science and technology. Birkbeck’s success across the wide range of academic activity, from arts and humanities to social sciences and biological sciences, is testament to the great values of those early years.

‘Birkbeck today is also a marvellous example of the resilience and resourcefulness of higher education institutions faced with change. It has responded extremely well, in very difficult circumstances, to the introduction of higher education reforms, because the impact on part-time education was very significant. The way in which Birkbeck has responded and developed new programmes, while also developing a new campus at Stratford, has been remarkable.’