Meet the Executive Deans of our Glasgow College campuses

Published: 4 October 2023

We are delighted to introduce Professor David Young, Executive Dean for Glasgow College, UESTC at Chengdu and Dr. Robert Partridge, Executive Dean for Glasgow College Hainan, UESTC.

Professor David Young, Executive Dean for Glasgow College, UESTC at Chengdu joined the team in February this year. Professor Young joined us from Charles Darwin University where he held the titles of Pro Vice Chancellor of the faculty of Science and Technology and Director of the Confucius Institute.  

Dr. Robert Partridge, Executive Dean for Glasgow College Hainan, UESTC, joined the team in August this year. He previously held the role of Executive Director of Student and Academic Services at University of Glasgow from 2018.

Some key priorities for the new roles have been identified by our Executive Deans:

  • to create a unique learning environment for our students, combining the best of Chinese and UK educational traditions
  • to assist and support our students to gain a degree from University of Glasgow
  • to place Glasgow at the heart of our campuses in China
  • to support our students and staff in their learning and teaching and to build a strong College community.
  • to build enduring bridges between colleagues at UESTC and UoG         

Professor David Young 

Executive Dean, Glasgow College, UESTC

Doctor Robert Partridge

Executive Dean, Glasgow Hainan College, UESTC

 What attracted you to take on a role at Glasgow College UESTC?

I have a passion for transnational education, and I love working in Asia. I have previously led engineering schools, so Glasgow College, UESTC was an ideal combination of these elements for me.

When you work for a university as old as Glasgow, it is hard to make an impact or bring about change. In Hainan, everything is new and whilst this can be challenging, it also presents tremendous opportunities.

Which subjects do you teach? Which fields of research are you most interested in and why?

Chemistry usually, and I will be contributing to the English program at Glasgow College, UESTC. For my research, I mostly work in new materials for biomedical and other applications. Most recently, this has involved making thermoelectric materials with potential applications to wearable devices. Thermoelectric materials generate an electrical current from heat, and so heat from the body could be used to generate small electrical currents to power wearable or implanted medical devices.

I am a biologist by background - my PhD is in early embryo development - and I have worked in the central administration of universities for several decades. I have taught students of all ages and backgrounds, from primary age children, through young offenders, to PhD students and business leaders. In the Biology Department at The University of York, I taught statistics and experimental design and a course on the ethics and societal impacts of my discipline. These days, my teaching is largely focused on leadership and management in Higher Education.

What is the most memorable project you have been involved in at GC UESTC or elsewhere and why?

My most memorable project was explaining to the Crown Prince of Brunei about the research undertaken by scientists at Universiti Brunei Darussalam when I was Dean of the Graduate Studies and Research Office at UBD.

I vividly recall the moments when I received the first photographs of the ‘campus’ and then had to tell senior officials of the Hainan department of education and the Chinese Ministry of Education that we could not commence the delivery of a University of Glasgow degree without any buildings!

Can you tell us about a proud moment working at Glasgow College UESTC?

The proudest moment in my short tenure has been meeting the parents and grandparents of our students who are so grateful their children have this opportunity for dual degrees from two world-class universities.

The proudest moment in my short career to date was when I welcomed first year students to the College: the students were so engaged and enthusiastic and, after years of planning, it gave me a great thrill to see them there.  I spent the rest of the evening replying to WeChat messages from them!

What or who inspired you to become an academic?

My inspiration came from attending academic conferences as a PhD student. I found (and still find) it thrilling to listen to Nobel laureates asking the big questions of Nature. I am very curious about the universe. I have never wanted to do anything else other than be an academic and although I have never studied engineering, I have taught many engineering students. 


I am not an engineer, but I can say that it was a brilliant man called Henry Leese who inspired me to study biology and who continues to inspire my life and teaching. In my ‘interview’ to join the University of York as an undergraduate, he talked to me about the miracle in which sperm and egg come together to form a new life. And despite understanding the science, I still find it miraculous today.

Tell us a about your hobbies and interests outside of work.

I enjoy running, cycling, and swimming. I have competed in numerous long-distance triathlon events and particularly enjoy racing in exotic countries. While in Glasgow recently, I ran the Victoria Park Parkrun each Saturday morning. I have entered the lottery for a chance to run the Chengdu Half Marathon.

I don’t have time to do much outside work, but I love cooking (I bake bread and cakes, as well as cooking most of the meals for my family), I like gardening and have developed a bit of a reputation in Hainan for my interest in plants and animals, and I do a little drawing and painting too.

First published: 4 October 2023