Public appointments: members reappointed to the Scottish Funding Council

Public appointments new release

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The Minister for Higher Education, Further Education, Youth Employment and Training, Jamie Hepburn, today announced the reappointment of David Alexander, Mhairi Harrington and Lesley Yellowlees as members of the Scottish Funding Council.


David Alexander has held a number of senior roles in local government, colleges and with the General Teaching Council for Scotland and has been a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) since 1996.  

He currently holds the position of Principal and Chief Executive with Gateshead College and brings extensive knowledge and experience of the education sector and is a passionate advocate of lifelong learning.

Mhairi Harrington has worked for over 40 years in Education with her experience spanning Primary Education, Youth and Community Work, Adult Education and most significantly Further and Higher Education.

As Principal and Chief Executive of West Lothian College from 2008 - 2018 she had responsibility for strategic leadership and governance for all areas and functions of the college.

Mhairi has served on key national, regional and local boards, and is currently on the Board of the Scottish Funding Council, was a member of the Developing Young Workforce Programme Board, Chaired the Review of the Professional Standards for Lecturers, is a Senior Fellow for the College Development Network and has recently been appointed by the Minister for Further and Higher Education to Chair the review of the National Adult Learning Strategy.

In 2015, Mhairi was awarded TES FE UK leader of the year in recognition of her collaborative leadership and partnership working. In 2016, she was awarded an OBE for Services to Education and in 2018 was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Glasgow Herald Higher Education Awards Event.

Professor Lesley Yellowlees completed both her BSc in Chemical Physics and her PhD in Inorganic Electrochemistry at the University of Edinburgh.

She enjoyed a rich and rewarding academic career at the University of Edinburgh becoming Head of the School of Chemistry and then Vice Principal and Head of the College of Science and Engineering before retiring in 2017.

Lesley was President of the Royal Society of Chemistry from 2012-2014, their first woman President in 175 years. She was awarded an MBE in 2005 for services to science and a CBE for services to Chemistry in 2014. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Lesley is passionately interested in research, equality, diversity and inclusion and career development.


The reappointments will be for four years and will run from 3 October 2021 to 2 October 2025.

The reappointments are regulated by the Ethical Standards Commissioner.


The reappointments are part-time and attract a remuneration of £350.73 per day for a time commitment of three days per month.

Other ministerial appointments

David Alexander, Mhairi Harrington and Lesley Yellowlees do not hold any other public appointments.

Political activity

All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process.  However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity within the last five years (if there is any to be declared) to be made public.  

David Alexander, Mhairi Harrington and Lesley Yellowlees have not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.


The Scottish Funding Council is the non-departmental public body responsible for Scotland's further and higher education institutions, including its 26 colleges and 19 universities.  The SFC is helping make Scotland the best place in the world to educate, to research and to innovate.  Investing around £1.9 billion of public money each year, SFC’s funding enables Scotland’s colleges and universities to provide life-changing opportunities for over half a million people.

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