Professor Ian McNay BA Hons, PGCE, PGDip

Professor Emeritus, Higher Education and Management

Key details

Ian McNay

Professor Ian McNay

Professor Emeritus, Higher Education and Management

Professor Ian McNay is a Professor Emeritus for Higher Education and Management in the School of Education at the University of Greenwich.

Ian joined the university in 1997 as head of the former School of Post-compulsory Education and Training and thereafter re-appointed as a professor. He has since taught at graduate level, supervised students and mentored colleagues.

His previous roles are a mix of academic, managerial and advisory, and include leading on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programmes in Mexico, Indonesia, Ukraine, Switzerland, Spain and countries in between. He has taught in three languages and been published in five.

He has received numerous grants, some include policy analysis from (former) UKCC on nursing , midwifery and health visiting; Universities Scotland for CPD teaching material on strategic management; EU/CVCP on European academic networking; European Training Foundation for different projects on management development; and ESRC for a seminar series on the future of higher education.

At the Open University, he was instrumental in initiating the debate which led to offering teacher training and law courses, as well as developing papers that changed government policy on funding for INSET students and levels of undergraduate intake, which enabled a dramatic increase in annual levels of funding.

At the University of Greenwich, he prepared a case study that led to equity of government student funding on PGCE courses compared to school related provision, achieving an increase in university income and led towards flexible provision in a changing market.

He has written an invited paper for UNESCO on assessing research quality, and an invited entry on research assessment approaches around the world for the International Encyclopaedia of Higher Education. A further report on Higher Education and Human Good (with Jennifer Bone, funded by a private foundation) was called in evidence by the Parliamentary Select Committee on the future of higher education.

The official history of City University Business School reports the significant impact of a programme run for senior managers in changing the strategic direction and approaches of the school. The Office for Students (OfS) (previously known as HFCE) Director of Research Enterprise and Skills, mentioned at a plenary lecture at Greenwich university, acknowledgement of Professor McNay where a course led by him had changed his career direction and elevated him to his current post.

Posts held previously:

  •  Head of an R&D Centre for Higher Education Management, Anglia Ruskin University
  • Deputy Regional Director, Open University
  • Senior lecturer, Open University
  • Academic Registrar, Bristol Polytechnic
  • Assistant Director/Founder: European Foundation for Management Development, Brussels 
  • Administrative assistant, University of Strathclyde

Responsibilities within the university

  • Professor Emeritus, Higher Education and Management
  • Supervises PhD research projects
  • Mentor to collegues
  • Research and Publications
  • Policy Development


  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Society for Research into Higher Education: formerly Chair R+D committee; editor for 15 years of Research into Higher Education Abstracts. Elected a Fellow in 2010
  • Trustee, Universities' Association for Lifelong Learning [UALL]
  • Visiting roles at Lancaster University and the London Institute of Education
  • Trustee, Coventry University Students' Union

Research / Scholarly interests

Ian's research interests are mainly in policy analysis, especially widening participation, research quality assessment processes, strategic leadership of universities and organisation analysis of universities and their operational cultures.

He has over 150 publications, several of which are in the top 5% globally in social science citations.

Key funded projects

  • HEFCE grant: reveal the impact of the Reseach Assessment Exercise (RAE) on individual and organization behaviour which created an immediate impact on government policy in Australia

Recent publications


Jameson, Jill , Rumyantseva, Nataliya, Cai, Minjie, Markowski, Marianne , Essex, Ryan , McNay, Ian (2022), A systematic review, textual narrative synthesis and framework for digital leadership research maturity in Higher Education. Elsevier. In: , , , . Elsevier, Computers and Education Open, 3: 100115 . pp. 1-27 ISSN: 2666-5573 (Print), (doi:

Robinson, Oliver , Sebah, Ilham, McNay, Ian, Field, Jenny , Wragg, Jane , Stevenson, Mandy , Newton, Paul (2021), Evaluating the REP-S brief resilience intervention for students in higher education: A multi-study mixed-methods programme of research. Taylor & Francis. In: , , , . Taylor & Francis, British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 49 (5) . pp. 672-688 ISSN: 0306-9885 (Print), 1469-3534 (Online) (doi:

McNay, Ian and , (2017), TEF: why and how? Ideological and operational imperatives driving policy. Educational Development Unit, University of Greenwich. In: , , , . Educational Development Unit, University of Greenwich, Compass: Journal of Learning and Teaching, 10 (2) ISSN: 2044-0073 (Print), 2044-0081 (Online) (doi:

McNay, Ian and , (2017), Leadership, values, trust and universities. In: , , , . , International Scientific Journal of Universities and Leadership, 2: 2 (3) . pp. 1-18 ISSN: 2520-6702 (Print), (doi:

McNay, Ian and , (2016), Imbalancing the academy: the impact of research quality assessment. Italian Sociology Association - AIS Associazione Italiana di Sociologia. In: , , , . Italian Sociology Association - AIS Associazione Italiana di Sociologia, Sociologia Italiana - AIS Journal of Sociology: 7 (8) . pp. 119-150 ISSN: 2281-2652 (Print), (doi: NB Item availability restricted.

McNay, Ian and , Hladchenko, Myroslava (2015), Leading the autonomous university: conditioning factors and culture of organisations in the UK, Ukraine and other European contexts. In: , , , . , International Scientific Journal of Universities and Leadership, 1: 1 (1) . pp. 7-14 ISSN: 978-617-7288-08-03 (Print), (doi: ).

McNay, Ian and , (2015), Learning from the UK Research Excellence Framework: ends and means in research quality assessment, and the reliability of results in Education. Tyrell Burgess Associates. In: , , , . Tyrell Burgess Associates, Higher Education Review, 47: 2 (3) . pp. 24-47 ISSN: 0018-1609 (Print), (doi: ).

Book section

McNay, Ian and , (2019), Governance, leadership and university values: do universities critique social norms and values, or copy them. Springer International Publishing. In: , , In: Paul Gibbs, Jill Jameson, Alex Elwick (eds.), Values of the University in a Time of Uncertainty. Springer International Publishing, Dordrecht (1st) . pp. 89-105 . ISBN: 9783030159696 (doi: NB Item availability restricted.