Professor Joanna Newman


Professor Joanna Newman joined SOAS as Deputy Director and Provost in September 2023. In her role she provides academic and strategic leadership to support the School’s overall strategy and lead on its Education Strategy 2021-26 that sits at the heart of the Strategic Plan 2021.

Joanna’s aim is to: (a) Develop an interdisciplinary and globally engaged curriculum; (b) Build a portfolio of programmes underpinned by expertise of Asia, Africa and the Middle East; © Position SOAS as the leading institution with an inclusive and decolonial approach to education; (d) Transform student experience that seeks to redress structural inequalities, creating a sense of belonging, and supports excellence in educational and personal development outcomes; and (e) Lead SOAS’ approach to a co-creation of the curriculum reflective of students’ needs.

Prior to joining SOAS, Joanna became the first female Secretary General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, an international organisation dedicated to building a better world through higher education, with more than 500 member universities in over 50 countries. In that role she directed the administration of the UK government’s three main international scholarship programmes – Chevening, Commonwealth, and Marshall Scholarships – as well as the multilateral Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships.

Her previous roles include serving as the Vice-Principal (International) at King’s College London, where she was instrumental in forging new international research and teaching collaborations; the Director of the UK Higher Education International Unit (now known as Universities UK International), where she led the development of a UK-wide international education strategy; and Head of Higher Education at the British Library.

Joanna serves on a number of boards, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s Leadership Council, the High-level Advisory Group for Mission 4.7, and CARA (the Council for displaced academics). She is a Senior Research Fellow in History at King’s College London and contributes to the MA in transnational History. Her most recent publication is Nearly the New World: The British West Indies and the Flight from Nazism, 1933-1945. In 2014, Joanna was awarded an MBE in recognition of her work promoting British higher education internationally.