Press release

MillionPlus elects new Chair

06 Dec 2019

Following a General Meeting of members on 05 December 2019, MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities, is pleased to announce today (06 December) that Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, Vice-Chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University, has been elected as the Chair of the organisation. Professor Thirunamachandran will succeed Bill Rammell, who is retiring from University of Bedfordshire at the end of the month. Professor Thirunamachandran will take office from 12 December 2019, for a two-year term.

Rama Thirunamachandran has been a high profile and influential figure in UK higher education (HE) for many years having taken over the leadership of Canterbury Christ Church in 2013. Prior to this role, he 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. Professor Thirunamachandran is an Executive Member of the Cathedrals Group and a member of the Universities UK Board. He played a pivotal role in UK HE as Chair of the Higher Education Academy, helping to lead the creation of AdvanceHE as a successor body in 2018.

Professor Thirunamachandran said:

“I am delighted and honoured to be elected Chair of MillionPlus at this unprecedented time of change for higher education. I believe that a strong and diverse higher education sector is critical to the continued prosperity of the UK. MillionPlus is a distinctive and essential voice within this higher education debate.”

“Modern universities are major forces within their local communities and regional economies with strong links to business, pioneers of technical education, supporters of research, innovation and technological advancement. We are the talent pipeline for essential public sector workers and provide opportunities to those with the aspiration and talent to succeed in higher education, regardless of background, age or ethnicity. 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.”

Rama Thirunamachandran concluded:

“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.”


Notes to editors

  1. For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Dan Blows on 020 7717 1658 or email
  2. MillionPlus is the Association for Modern Universities in the UK, and the voice of 21st century higher education. We champion, promote and raise awareness of the essential role and impact of modern universities in the UK’s world-leading higher education sector. More information can be found at
  3. Professor Thirunamachandran’s full biography can be found here
  4. The MillionPlus election manifesto and its six pledges can be found here
  5. What are modern universities? Modern universities are long established centres of higher education in their communities with roots that stretch back decades, if not centuries. Many gained university title following legislation agreed by parliament in 1992. They make up almost half of the UK university sector with over a million students studying at modern universities every year.
  6. #ThinkModern: facts and stats