Anthony Forster (political scientist)

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Professor Anthony William Forster, FAcSS is a British political scientist and former British Army officer. He is the current Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex and was previously Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Durham University.

Early life and education[edit]

Forster studied politics at the University of Hull.[1] He graduated in 1985 with a first-class Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree.[2][3] He had been sponsored through university by the military in the form of a cadetship.[2] Having completed six years of military service, he returned to university studies. From 1991 to 1993, he studied for a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree in European Politics and Society at St Antony's College, University of Oxford.[3] He remained at Oxford to undertake further research in European politics, and completed his Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) degree in 1996.[3][4]


Military service[edit]

From 1985 to 1991, Forster served as an officer in the British Army.[2][3] On 2 September 1983, he was commissioned into the Royal Corps of Transport as a second lieutenant (on probation) (Undergraduate Cadetship).[5] Having completed his university degree, on 7 July 1985 he started his full-time military career as a second lieutenant (on probation).[6] His commission was confirmed and he was promoted to lieutenant on 7 July 1985 with seniority from 9 April 1985.[7] He was promoted to captain on 9 April 1989.[8] He left the British Army on 1 May 1991 and was appointed to the reserve of officers.[9]

His military service came at the end of the Cold War and he completed a number of postings to West Germany.[2] In 1990, he was deployed to Namibia as a British military adviser to the government of the newly independent nation.[2]

Academic career[edit]

Forster began his academic career while a postgraduate student at the University of Oxford. He was a lecturer at St Hilda's College, Oxford from 1985 to 1986.[3]

Academic administration[edit]

As vice-chancellor of Essex, Forster has presided over reforms changing the culture of Essex University by giving decision-making power to administrators at the expense of academics and students. In 2014 Marina Warner criticized this process for its "arrogance and ignorance", characterizing individuals like Forster as "minor but willing operatives in a larger mechanics of power".[10] These changes in the culture are also illustrated by a recent employment tribunal case, which the University of Essex lost in 2014, after a University Teacher was automatically unfairly dismissed for trying to assert her statutory rights, on the advice of an HR Officer. The reason for her dismissal was that after the Teacher was trying to assert a statutory right, an HR Officer advised the Head of her Department to dismiss the Teacher for this reason. This advice went counter the Employment Law in the UK and was provided in writing (email), which was the chief evidence in the case. No procedure was carried out either during the dismissal. This case also demonstrates the effects of the cultural changes mentioned above, the shift of decision making power to administrators and the combination of "arrogance and ignorance" referred to by Marina Warner.


  1. ^ "Professor Anthony Forster FHEA FRSA AcSS". Profile. University of Essex. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Parr, Chris (18 April 2013). "V-c applies military lessons in leadership". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Professor Anthony Forster FHEA FRSA AcSS". Curriculum vitae. University of Essex. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "New Vice-Chancellor appointed". News. University of Essex. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 49532. p. 14705. 7 November 1983. Retrieved 05 March 2014.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 50515. p. 6489. 12 May 1986. Retrieved 05 March 2014.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 50527. p. 7097. 23 May 1986. Retrieved 05 March 2014.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 51696. p. 4293. 10 April 1989. Retrieved 05 March 2014.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 52531. p. 7433. 13 May 1991. Retrieved 05 March 2014.
  10. ^ Marina Warner, Diary, London Review of Books, Vol. 36 No. 17, 11 September 2014, pp.42-43
Academic offices
Preceded by
Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Durham University
? to 2012
Succeeded by
Ray Hudson
Preceded by
Colin Riordan
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex
2012 to present