The Academic Board is responsible for the academic governance of the University. It supports the University’s commitment to academic excellence and the delivery of the highest quality education and research programmes and awards. The University’s benchmarks for robust internal academic quality management are informed by the UK Quality Assurance Agency; and its remit, summarised in its Terms of Reference, extends beyond regulating the academic work of the University to encompass issues such as research, scholarship, quality teaching and learning processes, curriculum enhancement and student learning experience. The Academic Board is the guardian of academic standards and plays a role in advising on matters relating to the academic components of the University’s Strategic Plan. It discharges certain of its responsibilities through standing sub-committees.
  • Professor Catherine Bachleda (Chair)


    Professor Catherine Bachleda is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Gibraltar. She has over a decade of experience working in the tertiary environment, underpinned by almost 25 years of experience in the service industries of health, law, and education. Over the course of her career she has held leadership positions that include: Chief Executive Officer of an accredited corporation providing executive and continuing education; Director of a small corporate law firm; Assistant Vice-President for Academic Affairs at an accredited American Liberal Arts University located in Morocco and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Gibraltar. In these roles, she has provided leadership in strategic planning, quality assurance, staff performance management and development, programme design and implementation, resource allocation and statutory compliance. She also possesses extensive experience in establishing accreditation compliant processes and in business development.

    Catherine holds a Doctorate in Business Administration, a Juris Doctor, and a Master of Business Administration. She has worked in academia and/or industry in North Africa, the Middle East, the USA, the United Kingdom and Australia. Her main research interests lie in the fields of consumer behaviour and services marketing. She was awarded Outstanding Paper in the 2017 Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence.

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  • Professor David Abulafia

    Beacon Professor

    David Abulafia is Professor of Mediterranean History at the University of Cambridge, where he has spent his academic career. He is Papathomas Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College, and has served as Chairman of the History Faculty, as well as spending more than four years on the governing Council of Cambridge University as an elected member.

    He is a Fellow of the British Academy (where he has sat on a number of committees) and a Member of the Academia Europaea, and has been decorated by the President of Italy for his services to history. He won the Wolfson History Prize following the publication of his most recent book The Boundless Sea: A Human History of the Oceans, published by Penguin Books in 2019. His other books include The Great Sea: a Human History of the Mediterranean (Penguin Books, 2011), which was awarded the Mountbatten Maritime Award and the British Academy Medal, a biography of Emperor Frederick II and The Discovery of Mankind: Atlantic Encounters in the Age of Columbus (Yale University Press, 2008).

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  • Dr Keith Bensusan

    Research Fellow

    Dr Keith Bensusan joins the Academic Board as Chair of the Research and Research Degrees Committee. He has been working at the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens since 2007 and became its Director in 2011.  His background is in the biological sciences and he has a broad knowledge of terrestrial natural history, most notably plants, insects and birds.  His PhD, which he obtained from the University of Leeds, is in avian ecology.

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  • Dr Awantha Dissanayake

    Head of School (Marine Science)

    Awantha’s research interests and over nineteen years’ experience in marine biology lie in fundamentally outlining physiological functioning in aquatic organisms, comprising of a multidisciplinary approach (from the molecular level to physiological) to evaluating whole organism function and associated effects upon organism behaviour.

    As an experimental biologist, he uses an interdisciplinary approach to contribute to the understanding of how ecosystem changes; either natural or anthropogenic; including multiple stressors may affect organism function with a view of understanding ecosystem health.

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  • Dr Darren Fa

    Director of Academic Programmes & Research

    After obtaining a first-class honours degree in Education with QTS in 1990, Darren taught for ten years during which he read for and completed his PhD in Biological Oceanography at the University of Southampton. He then moved to the Gibraltar Museum in 1999 during which time he also read for a Masters Degree in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester. Darren was then chosen to be seconded as part of the team that developed and implemented the roadmap for the creation of the University of Gibraltar, eventually joining its team as Director of Academic Programmes and Research in 2014.

    As well as authoring several popular books, Darren has published over 70 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters mainly on ecological and archaeological subjects, and has been principal investigator on a number of EU and EFCHED funded projects, several of which received international awards. His primary research areas are in marine species ecology and conservation, palaeoecology, and human evolution and behaviour, especially the relationship between people and the sea in the past.
    He is responsible for all the academic research that takes place under the aegis of the University, and is a member of the University’s Research and Research Degrees Committee as well as its Academic Board. He is also directly responsible for the development and delivery of a number of its academic programmes, having personally written the specifications for the MSc in Marine Science and Climate Change and the University’s flagship PhD programme.

    Amongst other things, Darren is a member of HMGoG’s statutory Nature Conservancy Council, Climate Change Committee and Scientific Diving Committee, as well as member of the UNESCO WHS Gorham’s Cave Complex Action Forum. He is an appointed mentor on the Commonwealth Futures Climate Research Cohort and European Commission Expert on Environment and Higher Education. He is a registered Scientific Diver, a Chartered Biologist by the Royal Society of Biology and Elected Fellow of the Linnaean Society of London. He is married with three daughters and somehow finds time to dive, ride and play music when he can.”

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  • Ms Elaine Lima

    Head of School (Education)

    Elaine read History at the University of Kent and continued her studies with a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at Canterbury Christ Church University.  A teacher for over twenty years, she has experience across the full range of Key Stages having taught pupils from Reception age to Year 13 students.

    Currently undertaking a PhD, Elaine’s research considers the successes and failures of induction programmes for newly qualified teachers and assesses their weaknesses and their strengths.  On the basis of this assessment, an induction programme, based on the concept of peer group mentoring and drawing on the principles and procedures of action research, will be designed, aiming to meet the professional needs and concerns of beginning teachers in Gibraltar. A Case Study of the programme will be conducted in order to provide a research basis for assessing whether this aim achieved.

    Elaine holds the post of Head of School (Education) at the University and is responsible for overseeing the delivery of the PGCE as well as lecturing within the programme.

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  • Ms Natalie Muirhead-Davies

    Academic Board Student Representative

    Natalie is an Environmental Sciences graduate currently completing her masters at the University of Gibraltar. After graduating from Bath Spa University in 2016 she spent time working in different roles including ranger for the National Trust and in the horse racing industry before deciding to return to academia.

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  • Mrs Aine Panter

    Head of School (Business)

    Áine Panter is the head of the School of Business, and as such, manages the undergraduate and postgraduate programme provisions of the School.

    She holds a postgraduate certificate in education and taught in a higher education setting for a number of years. In addition to being a qualified educator, Áine is also a chartered accountant. Prior to entering full-time education, she worked in private practice for many years where she managed a wide portfolio of clients and gained a wealth of experience across many types of industries. She also holds a BSc (Honours) in Accounting, a Master in Business Studies (both from University College Cork, Ireland) and is a fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland.

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  • Professor John White

    Adjunct Professor

    Professor John White was born in Dundee, Scotland. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh where he took a Bachelor’s degree in Law and Politics. There he was awarded the Simon Gray Prize. He then attended the University of Cambridge where he studied Criminology at Master’s level. After Cambridge he returned to Scotland and to the University of Edinburgh where he completed his doctoral thesis in the Faculty of Law. During seven years in Edinburgh, he taught at Edinburgh Napier University, the University of Edinburgh, Queen Margaret University and the Scottish Police College. He then moved to Hong Kong and taught law for three years at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the University of Hong Kong.

    He returned to the UK to teach Law and Criminology full-time at the University of Leeds with some part-time teaching at Leeds Beckett University. He then spent twenty years as Dean/Head of Law at Anglia Ruskin University (where he was appointed a full professor) before becoming Head of Human Sciences and Law at Bucks New University. He has also taught at the University of Newcastle, in Malaysia and on sabbatical as Distinguished Visiting Professor at a university in North Carolina. During the last few years he has acted as a higher education consultant and occupied positions as Principal, President and Advisor at various private international colleges. He is a Senior Member of Wolfson College, University of Cambridge. He organises programmes in Sports Law in Cambridge on behalf of ISDE Law & Business School, Madrid and is developing similar programmes in Oxford. His principal academic interest is in Sports Criminology. He has been a secondary school governor, a member of the governing body of a prison and a monitor of the treatment of prisoners in custody areas.

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