New University of Edinburgh principal is University of Hong Kong president Professor Peter Mathieson

Written by Tom Freeman on 2 February 2017 in News

Medical research expert Professor Mathieson returns to the UK to take top job at Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh has appointed Professor Peter Mathieson as its next principal and vice-chancellor.

Mathieson, the current president of the University of Hong Kong, replaces Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea who is due to leave the post in September.

Mathieson was dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Bristol for six years before taking the top job in Hong Kong.


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While in Hong Kong, South China Morning Post reported that Mathieson defended students' right to protest despite admitting it had put off "a handful of donors" to the University.

In an email to staff and students to announce his departure, he said: "Repeatedly during the last three years we have articulated, promoted and defended the university’s core principles during a period of unprecedented political complexity in Hong Kong, ensuring that our students and staff can continue to flourish in an environment that respects their freedom of speech: long may this continue." 

Vice-convener of Edinburgh's university court Anne Richards, who chaired the recruitment panel, said: “We’re particularly pleased to have attracted a candidate from a highly prestigious institution such as the University of Hong Kong.

 “He has a very strong legacy on which to build and we have every confidence that he is the person to lead the University of Edinburgh into an exciting new era.”   

On his appointment Mathieson said: “I am absolutely delighted to be joining the University of Edinburgh as its next principal and vice-Chancellor."

 “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the University of Hong Kong and I now look forward to leading the University of Edinburgh forward into its next chapter.

“Like Hong Kong, Edinburgh is a truly global institution with a great reputation for excellence in teaching and research. Working together with students, staff and supporters, I am confident we can build on that reputation in the future – during what are exciting and challenging times in the world of higher education.”      

O’Shea will remain in post until an agreement on a start date can be reached

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