About>University Structure & Governance>Professor Cara Aitchison

Professor Cara Aitchison

Cara Aitchison

President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Cara Aitchison



Professor Cara Aitchison has been President and Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff Metropolitan University since 2016 when she joined from Plymouth Marjon University where she was Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive (2013-2016).

Cara is committed to values-driven leadership that integrates the education agendas of widening participation, civic engagement and international diplomacy with sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Her leadership is informed by her research and she holds a Professorship in Geography and Cultural Economy and has published 10 books and 200+ research outputs, including 50+ international keynote papers. Cara has been Principal Investigator to 30+ funded research projects leading to new theoretical perspectives in leisure, tourism and gender studies and new policy impacts in rural planning, sustainable development, renewable energy, cultural strategy, tourism development and sport leadership. She has held international journal Editorial Board positions on: Annals of Leisure Research, Annals of Tourism Research, Contemporary Social Science; Equality, Diversity and Inclusion; Leisure Studies; and Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise.

Professor Aitchison was previously Head of Moray House School of Education at Edinburgh University (2010-13), Dean of the Faculty of Education and Sport at the University of Bedfordshire (2008-10), Professor in Human Geography and Director of the Centre for Leisure, Tourism and Society at UWE Bristol (2003-08), Senior Research Fellow, Reader in Cultural Theory and Leisure Policy and then Head of the Leisure and Sport Research Unit at the University of Gloucestershire (1998-2003), Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Principal Lecturer at the University of North London (now London Metropolitan University, 1989-1998) and Lecturer in Leisure Studies at Croydon College (1988-89).

Cara has been the Chair of the Sexual Misconduct Advisory Group for Universities UK (2018-2021), the UK Research Excellence Framework Sub-Panel for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism (2010-2014), the UN-affiliated Women and Gender Commission of World Leisure (2002-2008) and the Leisure Studies Association (2001-2004). She has been a Council/Board Member of CBI Cymru/Wales (2016-), Academy of Social Sciences (2015-2021), Equality Challenge Unit (2015-18), Askel Veur Academies Trust for Devon and Cornwall, Plymouth Culture (2014-2016) and the Scottish Government Commission on Rural Education (2011-2013).

Cara has a degree in Geography from Edinburgh University, a PhD in Social Science from Bristol University and is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales, Academy of Social Sciences, Royal Geographical Society, World Leisure Academy and Higher Education Academy and is an Honorary Professor in the Department of Health at the University of Bath.


  • 1999 - PhD Social Science, Bristol University (part-time 1996-99)                                
  • 1993 - MA Gender and Society, University of Middlesex (part-time 1990-93) 
  • 1990 - PGCE, Thames Polytechnic (now Greenwich University) (part-time 1988-90) 
  • 1988 - Postgraduate Diploma in Recreation and Leisure Practice, Moray House College of Education (now University of Edinburgh) (full-time 1987-88) 
  • 1987 - MA (Hons) Geography, University of Edinburgh (full-time 1983-87) 


If you would like to contact the Vice-Chancellor, please email vc-office@cardiffmet.ac.uk.

Address: Vice-Chancellor's Office, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Maritime House, Western Avenue, Cardiff CF5 2YB