Solent University has announced Richard Smith as the new Chair of the Board of Governors.

Mr Smith was previously the Chief Executive of Unite Students and his new role will be to guide the direction of the University's strategy as Chair of the Board while overseeing the institution's performance and adherence to the broader regulatory framework.

He will represent the institution externally, staunchly advocating its interests and ensuring its voice is heard on the Committee of University Chairs.

While at Unite Students, Mr Smith amplified their growth, leading to the expansion of their portfolio to 157 properties across 23 university towns, providing accommodation for over 70,000 students.

Joining the company in 2010 as Deputy Chief Financial Officer, he rose to Chief Executive in 2016 and directed them to enter the FTSE 100 Index in 2022.

Mr Smith's term as Chair will officially begin on August 1 after the current Chair, Phil Cotton, completes his term.

Mr Cotton's unique expertise and dedication have been instrumental in his seven-year term, during which he represented the University locally and nationally.

Mr Cotton also headed the Board's development of Strategy 2020 and 2025 and actively participated in the University's Governance and Remuneration Committees.

The Chair’s appointment comes over a year after appointing Professor James Knowles as Vice-Chancellor.

Vice-chancellor of Solent University, Professor James Knowles, said: "Richard’s appointment is a great sign for the future of Solent University. His knowledge of higher education, and particularly his passion for the development of young people, will be a fantastic asset to our Board and the University.

"As we continue the development of our Solent 2035 strategy, it is imperative that we ensure that the University is ready for the demands of the future. Richard will play a key part in that process, ensuring the leadership of the University is taking the right steps to advance our education interests, making sure that the delivery of our practice-based curriculum responds to industry and regional skills needs."

Incoming chair of the Board of Governors at Solent University, Richard Smith, said: "Solent University has a promising future, and I am thrilled to collaborate with James, with the Board, and with the wider University community to ensure that every student has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

"Having closely engaged with the higher education sector, I’ve witnessed the challenges faced by students and universities. I wholeheartedly embrace Solent’s values and commitment to equality of opportunity. I am dedicated to the University’s mission of preparing students to be work-ready, world-ready, and future-ready, and recognise the value of the real-world learning that the University offers.

"As the demands of employers and society evolve, it is crucial for students and staff to be well-prepared. Solent is already taking positive steps in this direction, and I look forward to contributing to the University’s continued success following the recent TEF Gold rating. Above all, I am committed to making a meaningful difference for students, staff, and the broader communities we serve."