Funding for specialist providers

The specialist provider panel

We established a specialist provider panel as a time-limited committee of the board in March 2022. It concluded its work in October 2022.

The panel made decisions in relation to whether a specialist provider registered in the Approved (fee cap) category was world-leading.

The panel included independent members who brought relevant experience in higher education and expertise in various specialisms, and was chaired by Lord Wharton, chair of the OfS. 

The panel's decisions determined which providers are eligible for funding.

See the panel's decisions


We invited nominations for membership of the panel. Information about the nominations process and the panel members is available below.

In considering nominations to the panel, we needed to ensure that the panel reflected a wide spectrum of subject specialisms and included, or had access to, individuals with an internationally recognised reputation in their specialism.

With this in mind, we sought nominations for panel membership made by national or international organisations such as representative bodies (of employers, higher education providers, and professional or subject associations) and other relevant organisations, such as other regulators or funders.

We did not seek nominations made by individuals or made anonymously.

The panel made decisions about whether eligible providers are world-leading using the information in providers’ submissions and against the criteria which we published in February 2022.

Download the role description and person specification which the OfS used to establish the panel.

Appointments were made by the chair of the panel.

Nominations were made by a nominating body by:

  • Seeking consent from nominees to submit their details to the Office for Students.
  • Ensuring nominees were available to attend panel meetings between February and April 2022.

The panel was chaired by Lord James Wharton, who is also chair of the OfS board.

The deputy chair was the OfS Director of Resources and Finance, Nolan Smith.

Find out more about James and Nolan

The panel members were:

  • Sir Alan Langlands FRSE Hon FMedSci 

    Sir Alan Langlands retired in 2020 following a distinguished career in the NHS and Higher Education. This included significant periods as the Chief Executive of the NHS in England and the Higher Education Funding Council; and as Vice-Chancellor of the Universities of Dundee and Leeds.

    Alan Langlands has strong interest in the scientific basis of health services and was the Chair of UK Biobank and The Health Foundation. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and an Honorary Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and five Medical Royal Colleges, with honorary doctorates awarded by a number of leading universities.

    In the arts, he has been a Trustee of the Leeds International Piano Competition and Honorary Patron of Leeds Baroque. He was key to the early discussions on the development of V&A Dundee, in promoting a successful partnership between the University and Opera North and in establishing Leeds as the first all-Steinway school in the Russell Group.

  • Professor Ali Mobasheri MSc Dphil

    Professor Ali Mobasheri is President of the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) and is ranked as one of the top 10 leading experts in the world on osteoarthritis on Ali is Professor of Fibrobesity in the Research Unit of Medical Imaging, Physics and Technology within the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Oulu in Finland. He also holds the position of Chief Researcher in the State Research Institute Centre for Innovative Medicine in Vilnius, Lithuania. From March 2020 to October 2021 he held a Visiting Professor position in the Departments of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology at University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands. He has also held visiting professorships at Harvard University in Boston, USA and Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China. Ali leads a multidisciplinary team of researchers in Vilnius and continues to contribute to research activities of two centres of excellence in Finland and Lithuania.

    In April 2014 Ali joined the University of Surrey as a Full Professor and Associate Dean (Research & Enterprise) and held this post until he left the UK in December 2018.

  • Cathy Graham OBE

    Cathy Graham OBE was educated at Birmingham University and the Royal Northern College of Music. After 14 years as a repetiteur in Stockholm, she held roles in England, including Executive Director of the Society for the Promotion of New Music; Managing Director of the London Sinfonietta; and currently Director Music at the British Council in London. She is also Chair of Streetwise Opera, which uses music to help homeless people move forward with their lives.

    Cathy Graham has won numerous awards for her work, including the Association of British Orchestras Award, and an OBE.

  • Professor Deborah Kelleher

    Professor Deborah Kelleher was appointed Director of the Royal Irish Academy of Music in 2010 and has played an integral role in the strategic development of the institution’s international profile, outreach, and academic courses. Milestone achievements include the introduction of specialised undergraduate degrees in composition and vocal studies; RIAM Podium, the Centre for Performing Ensembles, and the founding of Ireland’s first Historical Performance Department with foundation partners The Irish Baroque Orchestra.

    In 2013, the RIAM became an associate college of Trinity College, the University of Dublin, and Deborah led this significant transition. The RIAM has also forged significant performance partnerships with many of the world’s most prestigious music conservatoires including the Juilliard School, New York, Paris Conservatoire and the Liszt Academy, Hungary. In 2016 Deborah was elected Vice-President of the European Association of Conservatoires, an umbrella group for over 300 conservatoires in Europe and beyond.

  • Professor Bruce Brown

    Professor Bruce Brown chaired the panel for creative arts, performing arts and design in the Hong Kong Research Assessment Exercise 2020 and before that chaired Main Panel D for arts and humanities in the UK Research Excellence Framework 2014. He was founding Director of the LTSN Subject Centre for Learning and Teaching in Art, Design and Media and has chaired arts assessment and accreditation panels for agencies including the Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation and Vocational Qualifications, the Estonian Accreditation Agency, the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, the Israel Council for Higher Education and the Kosovo Accreditation Agency. He is an ex Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Brighton and, before that, was Dean of its Faculty of Arts and Architecture.

  • Dr Claire Mera-Nelson 

    Dr Claire Mera-Nelson is Director, Music and London at Arts Council England, the national development agency for creativity and culture where, since 2018, she has been responsible for the development of national strategy and policy for public investment in music in England. 

    Prior to joining Arts Council Claire was Director of Music at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. During her time in higher education she undertook quality advisory roles for the Quality Assurance Agency (UK) and Hobéon (The Netherlands) as well as several UK higher education institutions, and was Board member for Ravensbourne College (now University) and Leeds College of Music (now Leeds Conservatoire). As a Member of Council for the Association of European Conservatoires she chaired a major Review of Learning Outcomes in Music from undergraduate to doctoral levels.

    Originally trained as a violinist, Claire was for many years active as a freelance musician with leading UK and European period instrument ensembles.

  • Sir Alistair Spalding CBE 

    Sir Alistair Spalding CBE is currently the Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the world-leading dance organisation, Sadler’s Wells. He was awarded a Knighthood for Services to Dance in the 2022 New Year Honours.

    Alistair Spalding has been the Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells Theatre since 2004 and is currently overseeing the construction of a fourth venue, Sadler’s Wells East, opening in 2023. Under his leadership, Sadler’s Wells has become one of the most respected dance institutions in the world, presenting an ambitious programme of cutting-edge dance in all its forms and hosting world-class national and international companies and artists.

    Alistair's vision and commitment has always been to discover and nurture new talent. In 2005, he created the Associate Artists programme which represents some of the most exciting artists working in dance today. He has subsequently introduced the New Wave Associates and Young Associates programmes, to help and support young artists at the crucial first stage in their careers.

  • Dr Mariana Amatullo

    Dr Mariana Amatullo is an Associate Professor of Strategic Design and Management at Parsons School of Design, New York and Vice-Provost for Global Executive Education and Strategic Online Initiatives at The New School.

    Her teaching and research are focused at the intersection of the design and management fields with an emphasis on the role of design as a cognitive capability for innovation in organisations. In her role as Vice-Provost, she oversees the executive education and online delivery of programmes in the Continuing and Professional division of The New School. Prior to joining The New School, she co-founded and led the award-winning social innovation department, Designmatters, at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California. Dr. Amatullo publishes and lectures internationally about design and social innovation, serving on a variety of executive, editorial, and advisory boards in design and the arts. Dr. Amatullo is the current President of Cumulus, the global association of art and design education and research. She is a Salzburg Global Fellow, a Fellow with the Royal Society of the Arts, and the recipient of numerous awards including the inaugural 2012 DELL Social Innovation Award for Outstanding Social Innovation Education. Dr. Amatullo holds a Ph.D. in Management (Designing Sustainable Systems) from Case Western Reserve University; an M.A. in Art History and Museum Studies from the University of Southern California, and a License en Lettres Degree from the Sorbonne University, Paris IV.

  • Professor Julie Fitzpatrick OBE

    Professor Julie Fitzpatrick OBE is Scientific Director of the Moredun Research Institute and the CEO of The Moredun Group. She also holds a Chair in Food Security at the University of Glasgow’s School of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences. She was appointed Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland on 14 June 2021. Julie is a veterinary graduate of the University of Glasgow. Her PhD was in mucosal immunology at the University of Bristol, and she has a Masters in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Julie’s personal research experience is on infectious diseases of cattle, sheep and goats with particular emphasis on mastitis, welfare, and developing countries. She has taken a particular interest in policy-focussed research, development and commercialisation over the years in the fields of preventing infectious disease, sustainable food production, and food security. More recently her role has extended to scientific advice and evidence in increasing the impact of science and innovation across disciplines and policy areas in the Scottish Government. Julie became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2007, a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society of Scotland in 2008, and was awarded an OBE for services to livestock research in 2014. She was awarded the Royal Smithfield Club Bicentenary Trophy for contributions to agriculture in 2016, and the Dalrymple-Champney’s Cup for veterinary research in 2018. She has acted as Vice Chair of GALVmed, a public-private partnership funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Department For International Development; Co-Chair of the Scottish Food Commission; a member of the Scottish Science Advisory Council and of the Board of Quality Meat Scotland. At the UK level, she acted as Chair of the UK Science Partnership for Animal and Plant Health and Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board, and Non-Executive Director, of the Animal and Plant Health Agency. She is currently a Board member of VistaMilk, Ireland; Chair of the Southern African Centre for Infectious Disease Surveillance (SACIDS), and she sits on the Scientific Advisory Board of VIDO, Canada.

  • Professor Michelle Spear FIBMS, FHEA, FAS

    Professor Michelle Spear is Head of School and Professor of Anatomy at the University of Bristol. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Biomedical Science, the Anatomical Society and the Royal Society of Biology. Michelle is also an MRCS Assessor for the Royal College of Surgeons Intercollegiate Committee for Basic Surgical Examinations.

Download the register of interests for the specialist provider panel

Published 17 December 2021
Last updated 08 December 2022
08 December 2022
The panel's work has now concluded and its decisions published.
30 May 2022
Updated to remove details of the nominations process, which has now completed.
07 February 2022
Nomination for membership of specialist provider panel is now closed.
24 January 2022
Deadline for nominations extended by two weeks from 21 January to 4 February 2022.

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