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Karen Watt

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Karen is Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, whose mission is to make Scotland the best place in the world to educate, research and innovate, investing around £1.9 billion of public money each year in colleges and universities to provide life-changing opportunities and contribute to our economic prosperity.

Karen joined SFC from the Scottish Government where, as Director of External Affairs, she led the government’s international relations and response to the EU referendum. Her previous policy roles include UK relations, enterprise and tourism, sponsorship of key enterprise agencies, culture and arts funding, historic environment and creative industries. As the first Chief Executive of the Scottish Housing Regulator she provided leadership in governance and financial sustainability, improved housing and homelessness services and secured private sector investment into new and improved affordable homes.

Having held the position of Principal Private Secretary to the First Minister and Head of Ministerial Offices, Karen has a deep understanding of the wider policy context that impacts on further and higher education sectors, alongside the workings of central government at Scottish, UK and international levels.

Register of interests

1.  Remunerated directorships.


2.  Remunerated employment, office, profession or other activity.


3.  Clients connected with the further and/or higher education sector or other aspects of the Council’s business.


4.  Significant gifts or hospitality arising from Board or Committee membership.  (To be reported as soon as reasonably practical).


5.  Significant shareholdings in a public company where the value is more than £25,000 or less than £25,000 but more than one per cent of the total issued share value of the company.


6.  Significant shareholdings in a private company which might give rise to a conflict of interest or trust.


7. Public activity in support of a political party within the previous five years.


8. Miscellaneous, for example, unremunerated posts, honorary positions and other connections which might give rise to a conflict of interest or trust.

Trustee of the Bank of Scotland Foundation.

9. Relevant and known interests of spouse, partner and close family.

Husband is associate lecturer at the Open University and teaching fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

SFC Strategic Plan 2022-27

Building a connected, agile, sustainable tertiary education and research system for Scotland.

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