MillionPlus, the association for modern universities, has elected a new chair to lead the organisation for the next two years.
Prof Rama Thirunamachandran, vice-chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University, will assume the role on 12 December.
Bill Rammell is stepping down as chair after he announced he was retiring as vice-chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire at the end of the year.
The association, which was formed in 1997, represents 21 universities founded after 1992, including Leeds Trinity, Anglia Ruskin and Sunderland.
The collective membership educates more than a million students and accounts for nearly half of all students enrolled in UK higher education.
Before joining Canterbury Christ Church in 2013, Prof Thirunamachandran was the deputy vice-chancellor and provost at Keele University and spent almost a decade as director for research, innovation and skills at the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
The new MillionPlus chair was also previously chair of the Higher Education Academy and helped create its successor body, AdvanceHE, in 2018.
The new MillionPlus chair described modern universities as a “talent pipeline” for the public sector and social mobility champions for students from widening participation backgrounds.
Following his election, Prof Thirunamachandran said: “Higher education is about more than a graduate salary boost, we must also be focussed on delivering the significant wider benefits that universities bring to those who experience it.
“We are in the middle of a critical election campaign for the UK. Our future depends on the new government taking forward a highly ambitious agenda in forging a new identity for the UK, bringing the country together by rebalancing regional economies and providing opportunity for all.
“This civic and social role is central to what universities must be. Only by harnessing the contribution of modern universities will we make the 2020s a decade of soaring productivity and prosperity. I look forward to working with politicians of all parties to help us to deliver on these aims.”