James Purnell

President and VC, University of the Arts London, and former Secretary of State for Culture/Work and Pensions

James Purnell joined UAL on 1 March 2021 to become President and Vice-Chancellor.
James came to UAL from the BBC where he was the Director of Radio & Education.

In 1997, he left the BBC to be Special Adviser on the Knowledge Economy, including the arts, internet and broadcasting policy, to Tony Blair after he became Prime Minister.

He was elected Member of Parliament for Stalybridge and Hyde, before becoming Secretary of State for Culture and then for Work and Pensions. In 2009, as Secretary of State for Culture, James commissioned the McMaster Review, which reset the debate around access and excellence in culture. James has also served on the boards of the National Theatre, the Young Vic and the BFI.