Cardiff Metropolitan University has today appointed the Executive Director of the Council for At-Risk Academics (Cara), Stephen Wordsworth CMG LVO, as the University’s new Chancellor.

Stephen has extensive and high-level experience in international relations, cultural diplomacy and the role of education in international conflict resolution and capacity building. He has led Cara since 2012, through a period when the Council has significantly increased its work with UK universities and others to offer sanctuary to academics and their families from persecution and violence in countries including Syria, Afghanistan and now Ukraine. The Council for At-Risk Academics was founded in 1933 by leading academics and scientists in the UK, initially to support their colleagues at risk in Germany following the rise of the Nazi party.

Cardiff Metropolitan University became Wales’ first designated ‘University of Sanctuary’ in 2018 and has an established programme of Sanctuary Scholarships supporting refugees and asylum seekers. The University has been working with Cara to support academics at risk due to international conflict and recently welcomed a female academic from Afghanistan as a Cara Fellow.

Prior to taking up post at Cara in 2012, Stephen was a member of the UK Diplomatic Service with his two last posts being Deputy Head of Mission in Moscow and British Ambassador to Belgrade. He previously served in Nigeria, in Germany during unification, and in Belgium as Political Adviser to the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe during the development of NATO’s ‘Partnership of Peace’ and the launch of the NATO-led peace support mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. His London jobs included being Section Head for East Germany and Berlin 1988-90, at the time the Berlin Wall came down, and Head of Department for the Western Balkans 1999-2002.

In more recent years Stephen has also served as a Trustee of two UK charities and as a Parish Councillor.

Stephen said “I am delighted and honoured to be returning to my roots in South Wales, as Chancellor of Cardiff Metropolitan University.  In recent years the University has been an active partner in Cara’s work, and I very much look forward to meeting all the staff and students and learning much more about what has made it such a success.”

The University’s Chancellor is an unremunerated role where the office-holder performs a number of key ceremonial roles, including attending graduation ceremonies, and acts as an ambassador, advocate and strategic adviser for the University in Wales, the UK and internationally. Stephen’s experience as a senior diplomat and his work with Cara aligns strongly with the University’s values-driven approach and goals in education and international relations. His understanding and knowledge of the role of education in international conflict resolution and capacity building strengthens Cardiff Metropolitan’s ability to work proactively with our international students, including our 10,000 transnational education students in 18 partner colleges in 15 countries around the world and our 2,000 international students based in Cardiff.

The Chair of the Board of Governors, John Taylor CBE, said “We are delighted that Stephen has agreed to become our Chancellor. He brings with him a wealth of international achievement in the Diplomatic Service and long experience of working with the university sector across the World.”

Stephen was born and grew up in Port Talbot, South Wales, and was educated at St John’s School in Porthcawl and at Epsom College. He studied German and Russian at the University of Cambridge and holds an Honorary Doctorate in Liberal Arts from Abertay University and the UK awards of Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order and Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George, as well as the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cara Aitchison, said “I am delighted that Stephen has accepted the role of Chancellor at this pivotal moment in the University’s 157-year history and this crucial juncture in international relations. There has rarely been a time when the role of education in cultural diplomacy, conflict resolution and peace building has been in sharper focus and I look forward to working with Stephen as we build on Cardiff Met’s role as a University of Sanctuary and a force for good in developing education, research and innovation to tackle the challenges our world faces today and into the future.”

Stephen Wordsworth succeeds Barbara Wilding CBE QPM, former Chief Constable of South Wales Police, who became Cardiff Metropolitan University’s first Chancellor in 2015. Ms Wilding’s term in office culminated in Cardiff Met being named the THE UK and Ireland University of the Year 2021 following on from the award of The Times and The Sunday Times Welsh University of the Year 2021.