Nick Stuart was educated at Oxford before going to the Department for Education and Science in 1964. He had spells as private secretary to the Minister for Arts (Jenny Lee) In 1968-1969, as private secretary to the head of the civil service (Sir William Armstrong) and as a private secretary to successive prime ministers from 1973-1976. He also spent two years in Brussels as an adviser in the cabinet of the President of the European Commission (Roy Jenkins) in 1978-1980.
The rest of his career has been spent mainly in education. He became principal finance officer in the DES in 1985 and was promoted to deputy secretary (schools) in 1987. He transferred to the employment department as director general of resources and strategy in 1992. He became director-general for employment and lifelong learning at the Department Of Education and Employment in 1995 and director-general for lifelong learning at DfES in April 2000 until his retirement in September 2001. He is currently chairman of The National Institute of Adult and Continuing Education (NIACE), a board member of Ufi Ltd, a trustee of the Girls' Day School Trust and of the Specialist Schools and Academics Trust, on the council of the University of London Institute Of Education, a governor of schools in both the maintained and independent sector, chairman of the John Lyon's Charity Grants Committee and board member of The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS). Nick also chairs the QCA Audit Committee.