Professor Anthony Forster

Professor Anthony Forster

“We are a dual intensive university, equally committed to delivering excellence in education and research and we are in a very select group of universities that excel at both. We were extremely proud to be rated Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework and also to be ranked in the top 20 in the UK Research Excellence Framework. Putting students and staff success at the centre of everything we do led to us being named ‘University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards in 2018.

“We admit students on their potential, not just on their prior achievement, and our staff are absolutely committed to providing a transformational education experience for all our students.

“Ranked 4th in the UK and 21st in the world for international outlook in the latest Times Higher Education World University 2021 Rankings, we are dedicated to contributing to society locally, regionally, nationally and globally. I am proud that you can find the world in one place at the University of Essex – and that we are a beacon of internationalism, with students and academics drawn from 140 countries.

“In response to record levels of interest from applicants, we are investing nearly £250 million on our three campuses at Colchester, Southend and Loughton – updating existing facilities and creating new teaching spaces, laboratories, student accommodation and sports facilities. These are exciting times for Essex and we aim to double the number of research active academic staff to 700 by 2020.

“Our students are an inspiration to us – bold, daring and determined to make a difference. We are especially proud of the amazing relationship we have with our Students’ Union.”


In just one sentence

Anthony Forster is the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex and is a Professor of Politics and International Relations.

Full details

Anthony has been the Vice-Chancellor since 2012 and is a Professor of Politics and International Relations. He earned his masters degree and doctorate from the University of Oxford. His research focused on European and British foreign and security policy, and for four years Anthony was the Specialist Adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union. He also chaired the independent government review of the Defence Advisory Notice (D Notice) System, a voluntary system established to limit the inadvertent media disclosure of information where release would pose a risk to life or to national security (2014-15).

Anthony is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a Fellow of the Leadership Foundation in Higher Education. Anthony is also a qualified executive coach and mentor. He has wide experience of non-executive positions within the Higher Education sector, having served as a board member of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, the Higher Education Academy, the Equality Challenge Unit and the Joint Information Systems Committee. He was a founding board member of the Young European Research Universities Network and is board member of the Young Universities for the Future of Europe alliance. Alongside this service to the Higher Education sector, Anthony has longstanding interests in engaging with business and the charity sector. For three years he was a board member of the Strategic Board of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, promoting public and private sector led growth and job creation. For a number of years Anthony served as a board member and Audit Committee Chair of the Blue Cross, an animal charity which provides nationwide support for pet owners who cannot afford private veterinary treatment, helps to find homes for unwanted animals, and educates the public in the responsibilities of animal ownership.

Anthony has 24 years of experience in academic leadership positions in five universities. Under his leadership, the University has re-positioned itself as a values-led organisation, focused on giving equal priority to excellence in education and excellence in research, benefitting individuals and communities. Under his leadership the University has increased student numbers by 50% and doubled the number of research staff. The achievements of the University have been publicly recognised through the highest rating of Gold for teaching excellence, the award of a Regius Professorship in Political Science in 2014, the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for authoritative social and economic research in 2017 and the Times Higher Education ‘University of the Year’ award in 2018 – the latter widely referred to as the Oscars of UK higher education. Anthony has also championed the creation of a 43 acre business and science innovation park, Knowledge Gateway, which has received prestigious UKRI and government recognition as a University Enterprise Zone, one of only 14 in the UK.

The Vice-Chancellor's role

As the senior academic and administrative officer, the Vice-Chancellor is the de facto Chief Executive of the University with overall responsibility for the leadership and management of the institution.

The University Ordinances state that the Vice-Chancellor: ‘shall have a general responsibility to the Council for maintaining and promoting the efficiency and good order of the University.’ He is responsible to the University Council and is an ex officio member of the Council and of the Senate, which he chairs. The Vice-Chancellor also chairs the University Steering Group (USG), the executive leadership team which meets fortnightly during term time and advises the Vice-Chancellor on matters relating to the management of the University.

The Vice-Chancellor is responsible for:

  1. Providing academic and administrative leadership and ensuring the good management of the University
  2. Developing and evolving the University’s strategy and vision
  3. Exercising general oversight of the University’s financial position in order to ensure a sustainable financial base that allows the delivery of the University’s mission, aims and objectives and advising the Resources Committee on the University’s overall financial strategy and its development
  4. Playing a leading part in shaping the academic development of the University
  5. Promoting and marketing the University locally, nationally and internationally
  6. Articulating the University’s needs and interests to government, the funding bodies and research councils
  7. Providing leadership and personal commitment to the University’s fundraising activities and fostering strong relationships with alumni
  8. Carrying out ceremonial and civic duties

As part of the University’s commitment to equality and diversity within and beyond its community, individual members USG also act as diversity champions in relation to each of the nine protected characteristics. The Vice-Chancellor is one of the University’s sexual orientation diversity champions.

Links for staff



Vice-Chancellor's expenses

The University of Essex reimburses the expenses incurred by the Vice-Chancellor and other members of the senior team on University business and these are published quarterly.

Essex staff can find out more about our expenses guidelines in our Financial Regulations.

Former Vice-Chancellors

  • Professor Colin Riordan, BA, PhD (2007-2012)
  • Professor Sir Ivor Crewe, DU DL MA MSc DLitt AcSS (1995-2007)
  • Professor R J Johnston, MA PhD DU (1992-1995)
  • Professor Martin Harris, CBE, MA PhD LLD DU (1987-1992)
  • Professor Sir Albert Sloman, CBE, MA DPhil DU DLitt (1962-1987)

Get in touch
Professor Anthony Forster  Vice-Chancellor
Telephone: 01206 872000
Mariella O’Brien Personal Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor
Telephone: 01206 872815