Our mission

BACP UC promotes and supports the professional status of counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists and CBT therapists working in counselling in college and university settings. We achieve this by providing information, organising networking and training events, conducting and publishing research and sharing best practice and knowledge.

We also represent our members in debates about policy and practice at national level and collaborate with other organisations which have an interest in the wellbeing of students and staff working in the sector.

Our executives

Louise Knowles – UC Chair

I am Head of the University of Sheffield’s Mental Health, Counselling and Psychological Therapy Services, a large service which during my 13 year tenure has seen considerable expansion of provision. I am a Student Minds charter assessor, a clinical assessor for Student Space and an active member of the SCORE consortium. My particular interest is embedding research into clinical services as a means of achieving the best outcomes for students. My approach and my work builds on more than 25 years experience of being an accredited psychotherapist in the public, not for profit and independent sectors. I have a strong personal and professional commitment to equality and working to ensure that our profession, and the services we deliver, is diverse and inclusive. 

Email: louise.knowles@sheffield.ac.uk

Afra Turner, Chair of the Research SIG

Afra Turner has over 25 years’ clinical and supervisory experience in the Higher Education sector. Originally qualified as a Psychodynamic Counsellor/Psychotherapist from Birkbeck University of London in 1998, she took additional training as a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, at the University of Oxford in 2011. More recently she successfully completed her Doctorate in Psychotherapy looking at the development of therapists working in the HE sectors, at Metanoia Institute.

Afra currently works in the Counselling and Mental Health Support Team at Kings College London, as a Senior counselling practitioner and supervisor. She also is the external clinical supervisor for student counselling practitioners at two other London University Counselling Services.

Afra currently serves as an Executive member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) University and Colleges Division and is the Chair of the UC Research special interest group. In addition, she is chair of Student Counselling Outcomes Research and Evaluation (SCORE), a practice research network (PRN) formed in 2018 by practitioners working in HE, professional body staff and HE researchers. A year ago Afra joined the UK Chapter of the Society for Psychotherapy Research (SPR) Local Committee, to collaborate on psychotherapy research events.

Email: afra.turner@kcl.ac.uk

Ayan Ali, Chair of Staff Counselling SIG

In addition to the Executive Committee role, I’m the Chair of the Staff Counselling Special Interest Group. I work part-time as the Senior Staff Counsellor at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). I’m a former teacher with a decade of counselling experience in London universities alongside mental health mentoring, facilitating reflective practice groups and training, coaching, and consulting. I'm keen to find ways to improve mental health in our pressured learning and working environments for both staff and students. An interest in working in a systemic way and addressing underlying issues has led to further training (MA in Consulting and Leading in Organisations).  

Email: a.ali34@lse.ac.uk 

Jane Harris, Chair of Head of University Counselling Services (HUCS)

I’m Head of Counselling at the University of Oxford, prior to this I was the Head of Student Counselling and Wellbeing at the University of Leeds. I previously held a wide variety of roles in the voluntary sector, particularly in areas relating to social and economic disadvantage, homelessness, substance misuse and mental health difficulties. I’m a UKCP accredited psychodynamic counsellor, reflective practice group facilitator, Chair elect of HUCS (Heads of University Counselling Services), Co-chair of the Wellbeing in Higher Education Expert Group, hosted by Advance HE, and sits on the BACP Universities and Colleges Division Executive and the Governance Group for Student Space.

Email: jane.harris@admin.ox.ac.uk

See Special interest groups for details of our HUCS, FE and Staff Counselling sub committees

Catriona Keane, Deputy UC Chair

My degrees in Psychotherapy, Psychology and Child and Adolescent Art Psychotherapy led me to gain extensive experience in various mental health settings and enabled me to refine the client group I wanted to specialise in, that is working with students. I have spent the last twelve years working in Universities as a Counsellor both in Ireland and the UK and I am currently thinking about how art methods can be integrated into clinical settings in higher education. 

I am Head of Student Wellbeing and Counsellor at Magdalene College, Cambridge and I am motivated by the multi-faceted nature of the executive committee role and the opportunity to shape, strengthen and build on the existing welfare provision for students in the third level sector. I am also interested to see the evolution of the mental health provision in particular with the acceleration of AI developments and I am curious to see how it may or may not fit with current mental health provisions. 

Email: cmk73@cam.ac.uk 

Journal editor

Rick Hughes, Editor, University and College Counselling

Until semi-retiring recently, I was Head of Service for the University of Aberdeen Counselling Service (students and staff) for five years, and prior to that, I was BACP’s Lead Advisor: Workplace. I have a keen interest in the creative and innovative ways we support our clients so we can best meet the needs of our sector community, including how we evolve and develop as practitioners and look after ourselves in our challenging roles.

Email: ucc.editorial@bacp.co.uk