Sir Michael Barber, the former chair of the Office for Students, is to join the University of Exeter as its next chancellor.
He succeeds Paul Myners – the crossbench peer – on 1 January 2022.
Sir Michael stood down as the chair of the higher education regulator in England in March this year, concluding a four-year term at the OfS.
He briefly assisted Boris Johnson with the prime minister’s domestic policy priorities from January to July 2021.
It was not Sir Michael’s first foray into Downing Street: from 1997 to 2001, he was a chief adviser in the Department for Education, then, in 2001, founded the prime minister’s delivery unit in No 10, which he ran in Tony Blair’s administration until 2005, receiving a knighthood for services to government in that year.
[Sir Michael] is highly influential on the national and international stage and has built up a distinguished global reputation
– Prof Lisa Robert, University of Exeter
He studied history at the University of Oxford, where he was also president of the Queen’s College student union. After graduation, he was first a teacher until the mid-1980s, upon which he became a councillor in Hackney and worked for the National Union of Teachers. He then became a professor of education at Keele University, then at the Institute of Education, London.
Said Sir Michael: “[Exeter University’s] ground-breaking work in subjects such as environmental science, medicine and the humanities, is admired around the world. Its students and graduates play vital roles in communities and countries in the UK and abroad.”
Professor Lisa Roberts, the vice-chancellor of the University of Exeter, said: “[Sir Michael] is highly influential on the national and international stage and has built up a distinguished global reputation. I know he will make a fantastic chancellor, and I am really looking forward to working with him to achieve the ambitions within our new 2030 strategy.”