Timothy O'Shea

Sir Timothy Michael Martin O'Shea FRSE (born 28 March 1949,[1] Hamburg, Germany)[2] was the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Edinburgh until February 2018.

Timothy O'Shea
Timothy O'Shea (far right), signing an agreement between Peking University and Edinburgh University in 2012.
Principal of the
University of Edinburgh
In office
ChancellorPrince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
HRH Princess Anne
Preceded byThe Lord Sutherland of Houndwood
Succeeded byPeter Mathieson
Personal details
Born (1949-03-28) 28 March 1949
Hamburg, Germany
Alma mater


O'Shea grew up in London, attended the Royal Liberty School, in Romford, Essex. A computer scientist, he was Master of Birkbeck College from 1998 to 2002[3] and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of London from 2001[4].

A graduate of the Universities of Sussex and Leeds, he has worked in the United States and for the Open University where he founded the Computer Assisted Learning Research Group and worked on a range of educational technology research and development projects, later becoming Pro-Vice-Chancellor there. He was a Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, Department of Artificial Intelligence, from 1974-78.[2]

The most translated of his ten books is Learning and Teaching with Computers, co-authored with John Self and his most recent 2007 book, In Order to Learn, published by Oxford University Press, was co-edited with Frank Ritter, Josef Nerb and Erno Lehtinen.

O'Shea became Principal of the University of Edinburgh in October 2002. Since his appointment he has sat on various boards including the Boards of Scottish Enterprise, the Intermediary Technology Institute Scotland Ltd, the British Council, the Governing Body of the Roslin Institute and has been Convenor of the Research and Commercialisation Committee of Universities Scotland and Acting Convener of Universities Scotland.

In 2004 he was elected Fellow of The Royal Society of Edinburgh.

He was knighted in the 2008 New Year Honours.[5]

O'Shea received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 2008 [6]

On 21 June 2016, it was announced that O'Shea would step down from his position as Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University in September 2017.[7]

Boards and Committees

Since January 2008, O’Shea has been Chair of Jisc (formerly the Joint Information Systems Committee).[8] He is also Chair of the Scottish Institute for Enterprise, the Board of Directors of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe,[9] and the Board of Newbattle Abbey College Trust. He sits on the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters,[10] and is currently a member of the German Initiative for Excellence, or 'Excellenzinitiative'.[11]

He has served two terms both as a Trustee of the British Council and as a member of the main Board of Scottish Enterprise. Between 2009 and 2012 he was the Convener of Universities Scotland. He was also served as Deputy President of the French Government’s Initiatives d’ Excellence en Formations Innovantes

Academic Board and Advisory Positions

University of the People (Member of President's Council) [12]


  1. "Birthdays", The Guardian, p. 43, 28 March 2014
  2. "Principal and Vice-Chancellor".
  3. "Prinicipals and Masters". Birkbeck University of London. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  4. "The Principal". The University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  5. "2008 New Year Honours" (PDF).
  6. "Annual Review 2008: Principal's Review". www1.hw.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 12 April 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  7. "Principal to stand down in 2017".
  8. "HEFCE announces new chair of Jisc".
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 March 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 June 2015. Retrieved 21 April 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. "Principal and Vice-Chancellor".
  12. "Professor Sir Timothy O'Shea".
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Lord Sutherland of Houndwood
Principal of the University of Edinburgh
Succeeded by
Peter Mathieson
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