Former head of UCD Hugh Brady appointed to Bristol University

The ‘Michael O’Leary of Irish education’ begins his tenure in United Kingdom in 2015

Former UCD president Dr Hugh Brady has been appointed to lead the University of Bristol, ranked among the top 10 universities in the UK.

Dr Brady, who finished a 10 year term as president of UCD in December 2013, will take up the prestigious new role in September 2015.

As president and vice chancellor of Bristol, he will act as the university’s chief executive, the role of chancellor being a ceremonial position.

He succeeds Prof Sir Eric Thomas, who is currently president of the representative body for UK universities.


Dr Brady, who was educated at UCD and Harvard and became professor of medicine and healthcare strategy, was once dubbed “the Michael O’Leary of Irish education” for his business mindset and reforming zeal.

Welcoming his appointment, the University of Bristol noted how his tenure at UCD “was marked by enormous and sometimes challenging changes to Ireland’s largest university”.

It cited, as some of his notable initiatives, the introduction of the UCD Horizons modular undergraduate curriculum, a major reduction in the number of UCD’s CAO entry codes to encourage a more broad-based early experience of higher education; and the “rapid rise of UCD up the QS world ranking - peaking at 89 in 2009 at the onset of Ireland’s austerity programme”.

Dr Brady becomes the third Irish president of a Russell Group university – joining his UCD medical school classmate Prof Patrick Johnston who recently took up the presidency (vice-chancellor) of Queen's University and Prof Louise Richardson who is president of St Andrew's University and who, like Dr Brady, spent time at Harvard.

The Russell Group is an association of 24 public research universities; together they receive about two thirds of all research grant income in the UK.

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times and writer of the Unthinkable philosophy column