Professor Geoff Layer


Geoff Layer has been the Vice Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton since August 2011. 

He graduated from Newcastle Polytechnic with a LLB (Hons) and entered a teaching and research career initially in Manchester and then in Luton.  He joined the Sheffield Business School in 1983 as a Lecturer in Law.  Whilst at Sheffield Hallam University he established a suite of access and student support initiatives leading to the establishment of a national reputation for inclusive learning.  He was an adviser to a range of national quality assurance and educational development initiatives and became Professor of Lifelong Learning in 1996.  He joined the University of Bradford in 1999 and became Pro Vice-Chancellor and then Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), until joining Wolverhampton in 2011.

Between 2000 and 2006 he was the Director of Action on Access, an agency established to advise HEFCE on its Widening Participation Strategy.  He has been a consultant to Universities UK, Higher Education Quality Council and many universities in Widening Participation and Learning and Teaching Strategies.  He was also Director of the HEFCE Innovations Co-ordination Team from 2000-2002. 

He is a Board member of the following local, regional and national boards and committees: 

  • Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Black Country Chamber of Commerce
  • Equality Challenge Unit
  • QAA Advisory Committee on Degree Awarding Powers
  • Higher Education Academy
  • Open College Network West Midlands
  • Universities Association for Lifelong Learning
  • Chair of the Disabled Students Sector Leadership Group

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Fellow of Leeds College of Music and was awarded the OBE for services to Higher Education in 2003.

He was educated in the North East of England and in Soham, Cambridgeshire.  He is a Sunderland supporter and plays cricket for Sheffield Collegiate Cricket Club. 

Selected conference keynote addresses include:

  • December 2017: ‘Creating a Culture of Inclusivity for Disabled Students’, Keynote Address at the Policy-UK Forum on Inclusivity and Support for Disabled Students at University, London
  • March 2017: ‘Developing and Delivering an Institutional Approach to Student Mental Wellbeing’, UUK Mental Health Conference, London
  • September 2016: ‘Disabled Students' Allowances: Responding to Reform’, Westminster Briefing, London
  • February 2016: ‘Raising Standards in UK Higher Education Through Effective Regulation’, Inside Government, London
  • December 2015: ‘Trying to Change the Mould - Embedding Inclusive Leadership as a Means of Securing Institutional Diversity’, UUK Equality and Diversity in HE Summit, London
  • April 2012: ‘The Role of Modern Higher Education in the 21st Century’, IFS School of Finance HE Conference, London

Selected publications are:

  • (2017) ‘Enabling Academic Leadership: Changing Academic Practice’, in F. Su and M. Wood. (eds.) Cosmopolitan Perspectives on Academic Leadership in Higher Education. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 159-175.
  • (2016) ‘Influencing Change through a Strategic Approach to Student Attainment’, in G. Steventon, D. Cureton and L. Clouder. (eds.) Student Attainment in Higher Education: Issues, Controversies and Debates.  London: Routledge, pp. 5-20.
  • (2007) ‘Embedding ESD in the curriculum - a whole institutional approach’, with P.Hopkinson and P.Hughes, 2nd International Conference, Global Citizens and Education for Sustainable Development, Bournemouth. 
  • ‘Sustainable Graduates: linking formal, informal and campus curricula to embed education for sustainable development in the student learning experience’, with P.Hopkinson and P.Hughes, Environmental Education Research, Vol. 14 No.4, August 2008, pp. 435-454, London: Routledge.  
  • Education for sustainable development: Using the UNESCO framework to embed ESD in a student learning and living experience, with P.Hopkinson and P.Hughes, Policy and Practice A Development Education Review, Issue 6 Spring 2008, pp 17 – 30, Centre for Global Education, Belfast, ISSN 1748-135X. 
  • Joint Editor with C Duke, Widening Participation: Which way forward for English Higher Education, NIACE (Leicester) 2005, ISBN: 1862012717. 
  • Closing the Equity Gap, The Impact of Widening Participation Strategies in the UK and the USA (editor), NIACE (Leicester) 2005, ISBN: 1862012369.