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Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Peter FrancisProfessor Peter Francis


With a track record in higher education leadership, Professor Peter Francis’ career spans all aspects of academia, from education to research and knowledge exchange.  Professor Francis joined Northumbria in January 1994, having previously worked at the University of Hull and the University of Leicester. Until the late 2000s, Professor Francis shaped the University’s criminology curriculum and provision as a lecturer, senior lecturer, and principal lecturer.  By developing the discipline from the ground up, Professor Francis gained invaluable experience in creating courses and a discipline that is demand led, research rich, and professionally relevant, supporting a high quality student learning experience.

Since the late 2000s, Professor Francis’s roles have included Head of Department (Department of Arts; Department of Social Sciences), Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning; Academic), Dean (School of Arts and Social Sciences), and PVC (Learning and Teaching) giving him knowledge and insight into connecting research and education to enhance the student experience through academic excellence. This, together with Professor Francis’s extensive experience working as a Senior Advisor to the Home Office, and contributing to national committees and Boards, means that he is extremely well placed to help shape the academic agenda for a university that is research rich, business engaged and known for its academic excellence; and one that values people and their contribution to the transformative role of Universities.

Professor Francis has a BA Hons Government and Public Policy, Newcastle upon Tyne Polytechnic and MA Hons Criminology, University of Hull.

Professor Francis was appointed to his current role on 1st May 2015, since which time he has strategically led the academic portfolio and educational offer at Northumbria, combining research excellence, technological innovation and experiential learning to create an academic portfolio offer that is dynamic and impactful.  His responsibilities as Deputy Vice Chancellor include the academic portfolio, faculty leadership, and education, student experiences and support services.

As Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Francis deputises for the Vice-Chancellor when necessary and appropriate. He is responsible for the student experience and has strategic oversight of KPI 5 (student satisfaction) and KPI6 (student continuation) on student. He leads the University’s response to TEF and is currently leading business transformation programmes on Technology and Student Outcomes; Educational Analytics; Digital Literacy; Student Mental Health and Wellbeing; Languages; and Size and Shape.

Professor Francis’s contribution to education and research was recognised through the University’s appointment process in 2011. His Professorial Public Lecture took place on  16th October 2013 and was entitled Thinking Critically About Victimology, Crime and Social Harm.

As an active researcher, Professor Francis’s published research has focussed on victims and victimisation, criminological research methods, policing, prisons and crime and social divisions. He has undertaken consultancy, evaluation and applied research for public, private and third sector agencies and organisations nationally and regionally and contributed to government Committees and national bodies on drug testing at work and mental health and wellbeing.

Between 2000 and 2008 he was Director of the Community Safety Research Unit (CRSU), and between 2002 and 2008 was appointed as one of the ten Senior Advisors to the Home Office. He has supervised PHD study on domestic violence, community policing, the culture of policing, youth justice, partnership working, and employability and sport, and has a particular interest in exclusion and intersectionality.

As an educationalist Professor Francis has a keen interest in student mental health and wellbeing. Currently he is leading a major R&D project on learning analytics by using student data to create thriving and striving student cultures. He was awarded in May 2019 £2m as part of the OfS Mental Health Challenge Competition to examine student mental health and wellbeing delivered through advanced educational data analytics, relationship management, and effective models of support. 

He has just published three articles on educational analytics, and on the platform society. He is currently writing a book on Contemporary Criminological Theory for Sage Publications.


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