Appointment of the Vice-Chancellor


Thank you very much for expressing an interest in becoming the next Vice-Chancellor of Solent University, Southampton.

With a strong track record of innovation and creativity, Solent has grown to become one of the leading new universities, with strong local roots as well as a renowned international reputation. We have embedded ties in the city, local region and beyond, and strive to make a significant contribution to the communities we serve, while putting our students at the heart of everything we do.

Our Strategy 2025: Future Ready, continues our work to build on Solent’s success, with a clear mission of ensuring all our learners are work ready, world ready and future ready.

Building on our successful recruitment this Summer, by 2025 we will be providing a growing number of students from a wide range of backgrounds with a life affirming and life changing education, enriched by a vibrant university culture of research, free speech, equal opportunities, knowledge exchange and partnerships. And when our students leave us, they will be graduating with the knowledge and skills to achieve their ambitions, and the passion and confidence to shape the future.

Our new Vice-Chancellor will have a crucial role to play, building upon successes to make a genuine difference to the lives of thousands of people.  Working with the Board of Governors, staff, and students, you will have inspirational leadership skills, and be comfortable building strong working relationships at all levels both internally and externally. A deep commitment to the University’s mission and values will be essential, where innovation is encouraged, teamwork is truly valued, and inclusivity lies at the heart of everything.

We recognise that the Vice-Chancellor will be joining us at a particularly challenging time for the HE sector but we also believe that there are significant opportunities to make a very positive contribution. We want an individual who will help the University to enable learners from all backgrounds to become enterprising citizens and responsible leaders, while also promoting economic and social prosperity for the communities we serve.

I do hope you are excited by the prospect of leading and guiding this University into a successful and sustainable future and we look forward to hearing from you.

Phil Cotton 
Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the Board of Governors 

About us

To deliver our strategy, achieve our vision and ensure our students and the University are ready for the future, we are shaping our work around three key priorities:

1. Student success;

2. Research and knowledge exchange;

3. Engaging with our communities.

For us, student success means ensuring our students are ready for the future world of work, enterprise, and volunteering. We offer a portfolio of exciting, modern and academically rigorous degree courses with employment-focused, real-world learning that prepares students to succeed in their chosen profession, vocation or enterprise.

Through our research and knowledge exchange, we strive for real-world learning, real-world research and real-world impact. This means that the successes of our students and our engagements with our communities are shaped and inspired by our applied research and knowledge exchange.

We are committed to having a positive role in shaping the future of Southampton and beyond, and to delivering opportunities for our students, staff and alumni to be part of that regional success. Public engagement is in our DNA, and at the start of 2021 we signed the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement’s (NCCPE) Manifesto for Public Engagement and have committed to working with NCCPE to review our current public engagement strategies, activities and staff support.

As we build on our students’ and the University’s successes, we will seek further opportunities to grow and improve whilst remaining focused on creating a university that is sustainable and which fosters equal opportunities. To do this, we must maintain our financial resilience and ensure we are underpinned by a culture that will allow us to change, adapt and focus on the future.

We are dedicated to the pursuit of university education that enables learners from all backgrounds to become enterprising citizens and responsible leaders. We are committed to promoting economic and social prosperity for the communities we serve.

Put simply – we want Solent graduates to be the passionate, creative professionals of the future, bringing expertise and energy into their communities and workplaces.


Respect: Respecting each other, recognising others’ strengths and celebrating our diversity so that everyone can give their best.

Ownership: Owning and being accountable for delivering a welcoming and professional service and working with pace and commitment to deliver objectives and support strategic priorities.

Inclusivity: Ensuring through our teaching, support and work that we are inclusive, underpinning all the work we do at the University.

Engagement: Engage with focus, drive and enthusiasm to deliver excellent teaching, new initiatives and objectives, setting an example and motivating others to engage as appropriate.

Integrity: Act with professionalism and honesty in all our dealings with each other, our students, suppliers and partners of the University.

Teamwork: Working effectively and collaboratively and being united in delivering the priorities of the University in everything we do.

Click here for more information on the University.

The role


Job reference:

The Vice-Chancellor is responsible to the Board of Governors, directly and/or through its Chair, for the leadership, overall management, performance and strategic direction of the University.

Principal Accountabilities

  • Advise on the development of the University’s corporate vision.
  • In discussion with the Board of Governors, develop the University’s strategic plan.
  • Lead the implementation of the strategic plan.
  • Define areas of operational priority for the University’s future development and ensuring their achievement.
  • Ensure the long-term academic viability and financial solvency of the University.
  • Lead, manage and support an effective Vice-Chancellor’s Group and senior team to maximise performance and optimise results.
  • Adapt and implement changes as necessary to meet the changing financial and political landscape, to ensure that the University continues to be well positioned for future growth.
  • Identify and acquire new funding streams and partnerships.
  • As Chief Accounting Officer be responsible for the overall financial management of the University within approved University regulations, procedures, and budgets.
  • Ensure that the University has a Financial Strategy approved as required by OfS.
  • Develop and strengthen the relationship between governors, students, and staff, united in providing the highest quality learning experiences for students.
  • Build, maintain and enhance relationships with local, regional, national, and international partners to deliver the University’s vision and strategic plan objectives.
  • Build, maintain and develop an extensive network of relationships with key organisations and individuals that enable the University to enhance its influence, impact, market position and reputation.
  • Deliver an outstanding student experience including excellent teaching quality, assessment, feedback, and study environment; and high quality, internal organisation and management to enable students to excel in reaching the standards required for their awards.
  • Extend and strengthen the university’s research and scholarship portfolios consistent with its vision.
  • Continue to strengthen the University’s market position, profile, and reputation for excellence in teaching, employability, and knowledge transfer.
  • Champion equality and diversity in all aspects of the University’s work.

Person Specification

Academic Qualifications

  • PhD or equivalent extensive technical expertise.

Knowledge and understanding of

  • The UK higher education policies and funding mechanisms for teaching and research, or evidence of an ability to quickly develop such an understanding.
  • The factors that ensure excellence in teaching and learning, the delivery of a high-quality student experience and enhanced graduate employability.
  • Policies and approaches relevant to the mission of a modern university that is responsive to local and national needs.
  • The global nature of higher education, or evidence of an ability to quickly develop such an understanding.
  • The economic and societal contributions expected of modern universities and the mechanisms for achieving success in this area of work.
  • The political landscape in order to drive and develop the University’s strategic position in a competitive market.
  • How technology can be used to enhance the University’s ambitions.


  • The track record to operate credibly at the most senior level within a university setting.
  • Board level accountability (or equivalent) with experience of developing and successfully implementing the vision and strategic direction of an organisation.
  • Leadership and strategic management experience gained at a senior level within an organisation of comparable scale and complexity.
  • Leading transformational change programmes to deliver improved performance in a highly complex organisational setting.
  • Leading sustained organisational development and improvement, as well as large-scale change projects such as estates development.
  • Development of new, innovative, and collaborative partnerships and networks between public and/or private sector and/or third sector organisations, including experience of establishing and maintaining positive relationships with business communities.
  • Diversifying income streams, fundraising and securing income from commercial, charitable, and public sector sources.

Skills and abilities

  • A strong belief in the mission of the University and the conviction to promote this with energy and assurance.
  • Ability to build credibility, trust, and respect with academic and professional colleagues, both internally, across the higher education sector and other external organisations.
  • A strong appreciation of the value of student opinion and a commitment to engaging with students.
  • Excellent negotiating, influencing, and networking skills.
  • Excellent ambassadorial, interpersonal and communications skills and the proven ability to engage and respond across a wide range of stakeholders at local, regional, national, and international levels including the media.
  • Highly developed business acumen with entrepreneurial flair and an ability to calculate risks, make difficult decisions and be accountable for the outcome.
  • Ability to successfully implement complex programmes of organisational change.
  • A demonstrably strong commitment to equality and diversity.
  • Personal resilience and the capacity to respond flexibly and creatively to new opportunities and challenges.
  • An unquestionable track record of integrity, openness, and honesty.


Terms of appointment

A competitive salary will be negotiated with the successful candidate.

We offer a range of workplace benefits, including:

  • competitive holiday entitlement, plus statutory bank holidays;
  • a contributory pension scheme;
  • annual performance and development reviews;
  • a relocation scheme for staff who live more than 50 miles away from the University (subject to eligibility);
  • interest-free travel loans;
  • on-site gym, sporting facilities and a range of wellbeing initiatives; and
  • discounts on a range of services including healthcare, insurance, mortgages and independent financial / legal advice.

Equality & Diversity

At Solent, we don’t just accept difference, we celebrate it and support it, for the benefit of our people, our students, staff and our community.

The University’s equality objectives are integral in promoting and achieving fair treatment and equality for all and as part of this, we aim to foster a community with a culture of transparency, mutual trust and respect devoid of hatred and intolerance.

University staff can join our LGBT+ staff network – a supportive social group for employees who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary, or are questioning their sexuality or gender identity. This group also supports many events both on-campus and in the local community, including the Human Library and Southampton Pride.

Solent also has a well-established Equality and Wellbeing committee, made up of students and staff, to proactively assist us in providing an excellent people experience underpinned by our values, and our genuine commitment to equality, diversity and inclusivity, irrespective of personal or protected characteristics.

This committee plays a key role in ensuring equality and diversity across the University, and leads on wellbeing initiatives, such as the introduction of our Mental Health and Wellbeing vision for both staff and students, launched earlier this year.

We believe that all our people should be treated fairly, regardless of their age, ethnicity, beliefs, sexual orientation, or gender. As part of this, Solent University is committed to continuing to work on closing the gender pay gap and is in the process of creating an updated action plan to determine the necessary steps to make this happen.

How to apply

Anderson Quigley is acting as an employment advisor to Solent University, Southampton. An executive search process is being carried out by Anderson Quigley in addition to the public advertisement.

Should you wish to discuss the role in strict confidence, please contact our advising consultants at Anderson Quigley: Helene Usherwood on +44(0)7719 322 669,; Carolyn Coates on +44(0)7825 871944,; or Ed Pritchard on +44 (0)7980 817 927,

The closing date for applications is noon on Monday 17 October 2022.

Applications should consist of:

  • A full CV.
  • A covering letter (maximum of two pages) setting out your interest in the role and details of how you match the criteria outlined in the person specification.
  • Details of two referees, though please note that we will not approach your referees without your prior consent and only should you be shortlisted.
  • Please complete the following online Equal Opportunity Monitoring Form.

Completed applications should be uploaded at using the reference number AQ1533


Closing date: Monday 17th October
Longlisting: Monday 24th October
Preliminary interviews with AQ: 26th October – 4th November
Shortlisting: Monday 14th November
Psychometrics assessments to be completed by shortlisted candidates: Monday 14th – Friday 18th November
Psychometric validation calls: Monday 21st and Tuesday 22nd November
Informal virtual conversations with Professor Karen Stanton, out-going Vice-Chancellor: w/c 21st November
Final panel interviews: Wednesday 30th November and Thursday 1st December (Note: shortlisted candidates will be required on BOTH days)