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Role details

Executive Chair - Science and Technology Facilities Council

Application deadline 6 March 2024


Science and Technology Facilities Council
Sponsor department
Department for Science, Innovation & Technology
Professional, Scientific and Technical
Technology / Digital
Number of vacancies
Time commitment
5 day(s) per week
£170000 to £180000 per annum
Length of term
3 years
Application deadline
11:59pm on 6 March 2024

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Timeline for this appointment

  1. Opening date

    1 February 2024

  2. Application deadline

    11:59pm on 6 March 2024

  3. Sifting date

    29 March 2024

  4. Interviews expected to end on

    26 April 2024

Timeline dates are only an estimate and can change

About the role

Introduction from the Secretary of State

Thank you for your interest in the role of Executive Chair of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), one of the Research Councils within UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). STFC funds the UK’s leading physics and space researchers to explore the most fundamental questions of humankind – from the smallest sub-atomic particles through to the observation of far-flung galaxies. STFC also provides and manages national level equipment and facilities through its science campuses that enable the UK’s researchers to push the frontiers of human knowledge. STFC provides access to sophisticated particle accelerators, the most powerful scientific lasers, the development of novel space technologies and the use of quantum computing amongst others. STFC is also responsible for the UK’s membership of a range of international science bodies such as CERN.

STFC is the youngest of the Research Councils having been formed in 2007 from the merger of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council and the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils. It became part of UKRI in 2018 alongside the other Research Councils.

The Government is strongly committed to UK science, research and innovation and furthering the UK’s science superpower potential. STFC has an important role to play in this by funding excellent UK science within its subject remit but also by enabling the research base through its major investments in science infrastructure. The role of STFC Executive Chair therefore represents an unrivalled opportunity to lead a national science funder with a unique and compelling remit.

In launching this recruitment campaign, I and my Ministerial colleagues are committed to fair and open recruitment processes across all public appointments that we make. We actively encourage and hope to see applications from across the UK, and from a wide range of diverse backgrounds. Should you need any further assistance, my officials would be happy to talk to you about this and other senior roles in the public sector.


I trust you will find the information enclosed in this job pack of interest and we look forward to receiving your application.

Viscount Camrose

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State

Role description

We are seeking an inspirational leader with international standing, scientific credibility, and a proven track record in leadership to be the next Executive Chair of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

Leading around 3,000 staff, primarily scientists and technical staff operating cutting-edge science facilities across 5 sites in the UK, the Executive Chair will develop the council’s National campuses, manage the UK’s participation in major international facilities, lead UKRI’s major infrastructure investment strategy and champion and increase the impact of research in particle physics, nuclear physics, astronomy, space science and particle astrophysics.

The Executive Chair will continue to develop and deliver the UK’s research and innovation infrastructure roadmap on behalf of UKRI. This will involve maintaining a deep understanding of the UK’s research and innovation infrastructure, both domestically and internationally, and consulting with the wider research and innovation community in the UK to identify and agree future investment priorities.

The Executive Chair, advised and challenged by STFC’s Council, is responsible for setting and implementing the strategic vision for STFC and shaping UKRI’s direction and position on research in particle physics, nuclear physics and astronomy, including space science, as well as emerging technology areas such as AI and quantum. As a visible and credible leader of both STFC and its wider community, you will provide direction ensuring delivery of world-class research, innovation, skills development and infrastructure investment. You will also form part of the governance of CERN , SKA and ESS, representing the UK as a member state.

You will be a key member of UKRI’s senior leadership team, responsible for decision-making across UKRI and leading on one or more major cross-cutting activity for UKRI, including UKRI’s major infrastructure investment portfolio.

STFC operates across 5 sites in the UK, with the majority of its staff based at the Harwell campus in Oxfordshire. The Executive Chair is a role where visibility is key. This role includes regular travel to sites across the UK and representation on an international scale happens on a fairly frequent basis.

Organisation description

The STFC supports research, innovation and skills in the fields of particle physics, astronomy, nuclear physics and space science through the award of funding to people and teams to pursue their researcher and innovation ideas in the UK, and participation in major international collaborations. It also designs, builds, operates and exploits world-leading, large-scale research and innovation facilities in the UK on behalf of the entire UK scientific community, regardless of discipline. STFC’s national laboratories host a critical mass of expertise in key technologies including Artificial intelligence (AI), supercomputing and quantum computing. In addition, STFC manages the UK’s participation in, and relationship with, major international facilities such as CERN, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and the European Spallation Source (ESS). It’s Research and Innovation campuses help businesses to thrive by promoting academic and industrial collaboration, encouraging translation of research to market applications, and boosting skills in critical areas of business need. This supports over 7,900 high-tech jobs and hosts around 370 organisations.

The research and innovation that STFC’s work supports seeks to understand the universe from the largest astronomical scales to the tiniest constituents of matter, and yet it creates impact on a very tangible human scale. From cancer treatment to airport security, high-tech jobs to hydrogen-powered cars, energy generation to accident-scene emergency care; STFC’s impact is felt within and beyond the UK in many aspects of daily life.

STFC’s large-scale scientific facilities provide support for over 10,000 researchers per year from industry and the wider UKRI scientific community. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and X-rays, high-performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets. They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

For 2023/2024, the STFC’s budget is ca. £900 million, and it directly employs around 3,000 staff. STFC operates over £2 billion of investment in major research infrastructure and is delivering an investment portfolio of over £1 billion in ongoing and new construction projects. STFC supports around 2,000 early career scientists at universities (PhD students, postdoctoral researchers and fellows).

The STFC is an integral part of UKRI alongside the other six Research Councils, Research England and Innovate UK and the STFC Executive Chair is a core member of the UKRI senior leadership team. This facilitates the closest possible collaboration across the whole breadth of the UK’s research and innovation activity, allowing completely new integrated ways of working to thrive. UKRI is led by Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser as CEO and overseen by an influential independent Chair and Board. It is funded by UK taxpayers via the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT). The successful applicant will be accountable to the Board and CEO, work directly with Ministers and will be selected by the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology.

Regulation of appointment

This post is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. For more information, please refer to the Commissioner’s website 

Person specification

Essential criteria

  • a highly respected physical scientist, engineer or science infrastructure expert of international standing with a proven track record of running large scientific facilities and with a firm grasp of developments across the spectrum of STFC’s remit and their application
  • politically astute, excellent interpersonal skills, able to influence, build and maintain strong working relationships with a wide range of partners including industry; and be collaborative and consultative
  • strong financial management with experience of managing major scientific programmes and facilities to deliver technical objectives to budget and schedule
  • an ability to develop, lead and manage the delivery of a clear and strategic vision for research in astronomy, physics, space science and more widely through the development of high quality, value for money programmes and collaborations built on a detailed understanding of and engagement with the stakeholder landscape - both public and private sector

  • demonstrable inclusive leadership and management skills with experience of leading and managing a large and complex organisation to be high performing while tackling issues of equality, diversity and inclusion; evidence of having successfully led cultural change and organisational development
  • commitment to the overarching goals of UKRI, and the health of a wider and more integrated R&D landscape

Application and selection process

How to apply

Your application should be submitted in two parts.

Both parts must be submitted by 23:59 on Wednesday 6th March 2024 in order for your application to be considered complete. Applications received after this date will not be considered.

Part one: CV and Statement of Suitability

Please submit your application via the UKRI Careers Portal (click here to be taken through) by 23:59 on Wednesday 6th March 2024 You will need to supply:

  • A curriculum vitae; and,
  • A supporting statement
Your curriculum vitae and supporting statement must each be no longer than two A4 pages in length. Please ensure your documents are named as ‘Surname, first initial – STFC Executive Chair – CV/Statement of Suitability’.
Your Statement of Suitability should provide specific information about why you believe you would be suitable for appointment into the STFC Executive Chair role and a flavour of what you would want to do in this role, if successful. Think about your knowledge, skills, experience, personal attributes, and vision for the organisation, and take full advantage of the space available. Use practical examples where possible and ensure you refer to the essential criteria for this role. Please include a section that sets out what you believe the main challenges and opportunities to be for SFTC and how you might address them. Again, please aim for no more than 2 A4 pages.
Please note, you will only be assessed on the content of your CV and supporting statement, and not the ‘experience’ section of the application. Should you have any problem with submitting your application via the UKRI Careers Portal, please do send an email to with ‘STFC Executive Chair’ in the subject heading. A member of our team will then be in touch.
Please note, to apply via the UKRI Careers Portal you will receive a notification confirming your profile has successfully been created (if you have not previously set up an account) and a second notification confirming your application for this role has been submitted. If you do not receive the second notification confirming your application for this role has been submitted, please contact, so we can ensure your application has been received.
Part two: Diversity Monitoring and Conflicts of Interest Form. Please click here to complete this form.

Overview of the application process

Public appointments are made on merit following a fair and open competition process which is conducted in accordance with the Governance Code for Public Appointments. We will deal with your application as quickly as possible and will keep you informed at key stages. We aim to conclude the appointment process within three months of the deadline for applications – this is in accordance with the Governance Code.

The assessment process

  1. Ministers are responsible and accountable to Parliament for the public appointments made within their department. As a result, they must be consulted at every stage of the appointments process.

  2. An Advisory Assessment Panel (“Panel”) is appointed by Ministers to assist them in their decision making. The role of the Panel is to decide, objectively, which candidates meet the eligibility criteria for the role.

  3. At the shortlisting meeting the Panel will assess applications against the eligibility criteria and decide which candidates have best met the criteria, who should be recommended for interview. Ministers will then be consulted on the Panel’s recommended shortlist. If you have applied under the Disability Confident Scheme and you meet all the essential criteria, then you will also be invited for an interview.

  4. Once the shortlist has been agreed by Ministers, you will be advised (by e-mail) whether you have been shortlisted. Those shortlisted will be invited to an interview.

  5. The Panel will meet again to interview candidates and determine who is appointable to the role. The Panel may invite you to make a brief presentation at the start of the interview and will go on to question you about your skills and experience, including asking specific questions to assess whether you meet the criteria set out for the post. The Panel will also explore with you any potential conflicts of interest or any other issues arising from your personal and professional history which may impact on an appointment decision.

  6. Details of the panel’s assessment of interviewed candidates are provided to Ministers, including whether they have judged a candidate to be appointable to the role. It is then for Ministers to determine merit and decide who should be appointed. In some circumstances, Ministers may choose not to appoint any candidates and re-run the competition.

  7. Ministers may choose to meet with candidates before deciding the outcome. Candidates should therefore be prepared for a short time gap between interview and a final appointment decision being made. Candidates who have been interviewed will be kept informed of progress.

  8. Once the decision on the appointment has been made, interviewed candidates will be advised of the outcome of their application, including whom they may approach for feedback. Successful candidates will be issued with their Terms & Conditions and a letter of appointment should they agree to take up the position.

Further information about appointments, including tips on applying, can be found on our guidance pages on

Advisory Assessment Panel (AAP)

Panel Chair & DSIT Representative: TBC

UKRI Representative: Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser (CEO)

Independent Panel Members: Professor Sir Peter Knight (Senior Research Investigator in the Physics Department at Imperial College) and Professor Sir Tejinder Virdee ((Professor of Physics at Imperial College London)
Advisory Assessment Panels (AAP) are chosen by ministers to assist them in their decision-making. These include a departmental official and an independent member. For competitions recruiting non-executive members of a board (apart from the Chair), the panel will usually include a representative from the public body concerned.
AAP’s perform a number of functions, including agreeing an assessment strategy with ministers, undertaking sifting, carrying out interviews in line with the advertised criteria and deciding objectively who meets the published selection criteria for the role before recommending to ministers which candidates they find appointable. It is then for the minister to decide who to appoint to the role.

Pre-appointment scrutiny

Pre-appointment scrutiny by select committees is an important part of the process for some of the most significant public appointments made by Ministers. It is designed to provide an added level of scrutiny to verify that the recruitment meets the principles set out in the Governance Code on Public Appointments. This scrutiny may involve the relevant select committee requesting and reviewing information from the Department and the Minister’s preferred candidate. The select committee may also choose to hold a pre-appointment hearing.
If you are confirmed as the government’s preferred candidate for this role, the department will be in touch to confirm next steps. In most cases your name and CV will be provided to the relevant select committee in advance of the hearing.  Following a date being agreed for a pre-appointment hearing with the committee you will be asked to complete a questionnaire in advance of that. Following the hearing, the government will review and respond to the Committee’s report before confirming the appointment. 
Full information can be found in the Cabinet Office’s guidance here. 

Eligibility criteria

In general, you should have the right to work in the UK to be eligible to apply for a public appointment.

There are a small number of specialist roles that are not open to non-British citizens. Any nationality requirements will be specified in the vacancy details.

The Government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards. 

You cannot be considered for a public appointment if:

  • you are disqualified from acting as a company director  (under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986);

  • have an unspent conviction on your criminal record;

  • your estate has been sequestrated in Scotland or you enter into a debt arrangement programme under Part 1 of the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002 (asp 17) as the debtor or have, under Scots law, granted a trust deed for creditors.

When you apply, you should declare if:

  • you are, or have been, bankrupt or you have made an arrangement with a creditor at any point, including the dates of this. 

  • you are subject to a current police investigation.

You must inform the sponsor department if, during the application process, your circumstances change in respect of any of the above points. 

When you apply you should also declare any relevant interests, highlighting any that you think may call into question your ability to properly discharge the responsibilities of the role you are applying for. You should also declare any other matters which may mean you may not be able to meet the requirements of the Code of Conduct of Board Members (see Outside interests and reputational issues section below)
If you need further advice, please contact

Security clearance

The successful candidate will be required to undertake Baseline Personnel Security Standard checks in line with the Civil Service guidelines. Additional Security Clearance may also be required for certain roles. However, where this applies, candidates will be notified during the appointment process. Further information on National Security Vetting can be found on the website here.

Additional information for candidates

Equality and diversity

We encourage applications from talented individuals from all backgrounds and across the whole of the United Kingdom. Boards of public bodies are most effective when they reflect the diversity of views of the society they serve and this is an important part of the Government’s levelling up agenda.
We collect data about applicants’ characteristics and backgrounds, including information about people’s educational and professional backgrounds, so that we can make sure we are attracting a broad range of people to these roles and that our selection processes are fair for everyone. Without this information, it makes it difficult to see if our outreach is working, if the application process is having an unfair impact on certain groups and whether changes are making a positive difference.
When you submit your application, your responses are collected by the Cabinet Office and the government department(s) managing your application. The data is used to produce management information about the diversity of applicants. You can select “prefer not to say” to any question you do not wish to answer. The information you provide will not be seen by the Advisory Assessment Panel who review applications against the advertised criteria and conduct interviews.

Disability confident

We are a member of the Government’s Disability Confident scheme. We use the Disability Confident scheme symbol, along with other like-minded employers, to show our commitment to good practice in employing people with a disability. The scheme helps recruit and retain disabled people. 
As part of implementing the scheme, we guarantee an interview for anyone with a disability whose application meets the essential criteria for the role, set out in the advert, and who has asked that their application is considered under the scheme. Indicating that you wish your application to be considered under the scheme will in no way prejudice your application. By ‘minimum criteria,’ we mean that you must provide evidence which demonstrates that you meet the level of competence required under each of the essential criteria, as set out in the job-advert.
When you apply you will have the opportunity to select if you would like your application considered under this scheme.

Reasonable adjustments

We are committed to making reasonable adjustments to make sure applicants with disabilities, physical or mental health conditions, or other needs are not substantially disadvantaged when applying for public appointments. This can include changing the recruitment process to enable people who wish to apply to do so.
Some examples of common changes are:
  • ensuring that application forms are available in different or accessible formats;
  • making adaptations to interview locations;
  • allowing candidates to present their skills and experience in a different way;
  • giving additional detailed information on the selection / interview process in advance to allow candidates time to prepare themselves;
  • allowing support workers, for example sign language interpreters;
  • making provision for support animals to attend.
When you apply you will have the opportunity to request reasonable adjustments to the application process.

Principles of public life

Holders of public office are expected to adhere to and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life. These are:

  1. Selflessness - Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
  2. Integrity - Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
  3. Objectivity - Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
  4. Accountability - Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
  5. Openness - Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
  6. Honesty - Holders of public office should be truthful.
  7. Leadership - Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour and treat others with respect. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

Code of conduct for board members

The Government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards. In support of this, all non-executive board members of UK public bodies must abide by the principles set out in the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. The Code sets out the standards expected from those who serve on the boards of UK public bodies and will form part of your terms and conditions of appointment.

Management of outside interests and consideration of reputational issues

Holders of public office are expected to adhere and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life and the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. Before you apply you should consider carefully: 
  • any outside interests that you may have, such as shares you may hold in a company providing services to government; 
  • any possible reputational issues arising from your past actions or public statements that you have made; 
  • and/or - any political roles you hold or political campaigns you have supported; 
which may call into question your ability to do the role you are applying for.
You will need to answer relevant questions in relation to these points when making an application. Many conflicts of interest can be satisfactorily resolved and declaring a potential conflict does not prevent you from being interviewed. If you are shortlisted for an interview, the panel will discuss any potential conflicts with you during that interview, including any proposals you may have to mitigate them and record that in their advice to ministers. Alongside your own declaration, we will conduct appropriate checks, as part of which we will consider anything in the public domain related to your conduct or professional capacity. This may include searches of previous public statements and social media, blogs or any other publicly available information. The successful candidate(s) may be required to give up any conflicting interests and their other business and financial interests may be published in line with organisational policies. 
Details of declared political activity will be published when the appointment is announced, as required by the Governance Code (political activity is not a bar to appointment, but must be declared).

Status of appointment

As this is an office holder appointment, you will not become a member of the Civil Service. You will not be subject to the provisions of employment law.

Appointment and tenure of office

Appointments are for the term set out in this advert, with the possibility of re-appointment for a further term, at the discretion of Ministers.  Any re-appointment is subject to satisfactory annual appraisals of performance during the first term in the post. There is no automatic presumption of reappointment; each case should be considered on its own merits, taking into account a number of factors including, but not restricted to, the diversity of the current board and its balance of skills and experience. In most cases, the total time served in post will not exceed more than two terms or serve in any one post for more than ten years

Remuneration, allowances and abatement

Remuneration for this role is treated as employment income and will be subject to tax and National Insurance contributions, both of which will be deducted at source under PAYE before you are paid.
You can claim reimbursement for reasonable travel and subsistence costs which are properly and necessarily incurred on official business, in line with the travel and subsistence policy and rates for the organisation to which you are applying. However these payments are taxable as earnings and will be subject to tax and national insurance, both of which will be deducted at source under PAYE before you are paid.  

Pension and redundancy

This is an office holder appointment and does not attract any benefits under any Civil Service Pension Scheme. You will not be eligible for redundancy pay as you are not an employee. No other arrangements have been made for compensation upon the end of your term of appointment because an office holder who is appointed for a limited duration would have no expectation of serving beyond that period.

Application feedback

We will notify you of the status of your application. We regret that we are only able to offer detailed feedback to candidates who have been unsuccessful at the interview stage.

How to complain

We aim to process all applications as quickly as possible and to treat all applicants with courtesy.
Please contact the UKRI public appointments team in the first instance if you would like to make a complaint regarding your application at They will acknowledge your complaint upon receipt and respond within 15 working days.

How to complain to Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA)

If you are not content with the appointing department’s response you may wish to further complain to the Commissioner at information on how the Commissioner handles complaints can be found on the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ website

Data protection

The Cabinet Office will use your data in line with our privacy policy.

Contact details

For additional information, please contact