University of Gloucestershire’s Vice-Chancellor, Clare Marchant, has received a damehood in the King’s Birthday Honours List 2024 for services to Higher Education.

The honour – Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) – is one of the highest in the United Kingdom and is granted to those who have made a significant contribution to their field. Dame Clare, who joined University of Gloucestershire as Vice-Chancellor in September 2023, is passionate about the benefit that education can bring to both an individual’s overall life chances and wider society.

Before joining the University, Dame Clare was Chief Executive of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), where she was dedicated to increasing higher education opportunities for people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. In the six years she spent at UCAS, the charity doubled the number of students it supported.

Dame Clare’s citation in the King’s Birthday Honours List 2024 reads: “She assumed the role of Chief Executive of the University and Colleges Admissions Service in 2017, transforming student services.

“The apprenticeship offer is now accessed over 2million times a year, with more than 400,000 students expressing interest in this route alongside other undergraduate options. She is committed to addressing social mobility and vocational priorities, helping students from diverse backgrounds make informed decisions about their future by positioning UCAS as a leading advocate for student progression.

“Introducing tools like Clearing Plus and the Hub supports previously marginalised student groups, care leavers, LGBTQ+ individuals, those with disabilities, and others facing mental health challenges, helping to accommodate the growing 18-year-old population and shaping the higher education journey for nearly 1.5 million students.” Dame Clare said: “I am hugely humbled to have received this honour.

“My six years leading UCAS were challenging but hugely satisfying, driving through parity of apprenticeships, trebling the numbers of students using our information and advice services to navigate choices and using data to bring transparency in making those choices. I would like to express my sincere thanks to what was a brilliant team of UCAS trustees, leaders and staff for making that possible.

“My conversations with the students I spoke to during my time at UCAS was such an immensely rewarding experience, including through the pandemic when they went through such difficult times. I am privileged to have taken this passion for working with students into my role as Vice-Chancellor at University of Gloucestershire where we support over 9,000 students and apprentices on their educational journey, delivering high-quality learning opportunities, creating great careers and connections that last a lifetime, and driving skills development in Gloucestershire and beyond.” 

Between 2010 and 2017, Dame Clare was employed at Worcestershire County Council, starting out as Head of Change, before being promoted to Assistant Chief Executive and then Chief Executive in 2014. Before that, she spent seven years in senior leadership roles as a digital delivery specialist with the Department for Health, leading on the implementation and integration of the Choose and Book Service and the digitisation of imaging services in hospitals. 

Dame Clare will attend an investiture to receive her insignia from the King or a member of the royal family, normally at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle, at a date to be confirmed.