Principal’s praise for the School of Divinity

Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal, University of Edinburgh, spoke about Divinity’s strong track record in student satisfaction during a visit to the School, 9 October 2018.

Professor Helen Bond and Professor Peter Matheison

After a meeting with Head of School Professor Helen Bond, and taking a tour of New College, the Principal met staff and spent 45 minutes answering questions.

During the Q&A session he told colleagues:

“Divinity is very good at achieving student satisfaction. I would like to know how you are so successful.

“I am interested in research excellence and teaching excellence and that is here – but Divinity’s success is also about community and a sense of identity.

“Staff satisfaction is also intimately linked to student satisfaction.”

The School of Divinity achieved 92.5% student satisfaction in the latest National Student Survey (NSS 2018).

Student satisfaction, community – and a beautiful setting

Professor Mathieson also praised the beauty of our historic building, saying that seeing New College in the of centre Edinburgh’s historic skyline had helped to confirm his decision to apply for his post.

Recent appointment

Professor Mathieson assumed the office of Principal and Vice-Chancellor in February 2018, after nearly four years as President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong, and six years as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Bristol.

Born and educated in the United Kingdom, he went to a state grammar school in Penzance, Cornwall as a boy, before qualifying with a First in Medicine from the University of London, and a PhD from Cambridge. He became Director of Studies for Clinical Medicine at Christ’s College, Cambridge before moving on to a distinguished career in Bristol. 


During his visit, the Principal answered questions on a range of topics, from internationalism to the Edinburgh Futures Institute, and from widening participation to the impact of the Fringe on university life.

Quotes included:

“I profoundly believe in the internationalisation of higher education for the good of our students, staff and nation. Our graduates become our ambassadors across the world, increasing our global reputation and creating opportunities back home as they become successful.”

“I am a firm supporter of widening participation, here and internationally. I benefitted from it myself. I was the first person in my family to go to university and everything good that has happened to me in my life has come from that.”

“One of my favourite duties since coming here is graduation – bopping all those students on the head, conferring degrees, I really enjoy it.”


The Principal’s Office (with biography)


Professor Peter Mathieson speaking to Divinity staff