Nicholas John Foster

Areas of Interest


Honorary Award

BA, MEd Honorary Fellow, 2003


Nick Foster was born and still lives in Suffolk. He was educated at Christ's Hospital, Horsham and having read English at Durham he headed to Nigeria for his initial teaching experience. Once back in the UK, he completed a postgraduate Diploma in Applied Linguistics at Edinburgh University and then went to teach in Malaysia for two years. In 1976 he returned to the UK, taking the post of lecturer at Frome College, Somerset and completing his Med. He then became senior lecturer at High Peak College in Derbyshire, and later joined Chelmsford College as Head of Department. In 1988 Nick was appointed Vice-Principal at West Suffolk College, then Principal in 1995. He was instrumental in establishing Higher Education courses in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University at the College. He joined the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) in 2002 as Executive Director and was later appointed Regional Director of Learning, Planning and Performance, East of England.

In 2008 Nick left the LSC and worked as a consultant with the Association of Colleges and a number of other agencies. He also directed the West Suffolk 14-19 Partnership of 16 schools and West Suffolk College. Now retired, Nick maintains an active interest in education - partly through his four grandchildren - is Vice-Chair of Suffolk West Citizens Advice Bureau, and is Chairman of the Woolpit Festival (the Suffolk village in which he has lived for 28 years).

In 2003 Nick Foster was made an Honorary Fellow of our University.


"The Senate of Anglia Polytechnic University has great pleasure in recommending the award of an Honorary Fellowship of the University to Nicholas John Foster, BA, MEd (known universally as Nick) gardener, golfer, violinist and foreign traveller extraordinaire, who has recently moved on from West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds (where he served as Vice-Principal then Principal from1988 until 2002) to take up the appointment of Executive Director of Suffolk Learning and Skills Council.

This award is made in recognition of Nick's longstanding, almost fifteen years, association with the University. He originally established a working relationship with APU's predecessor institute (Anglia Higher Education College) and when APU was formed, he played a prominent role in building what is now the Regional University Partnership. As a member of the Regional Principals Strategic Policy Group, he has helped shape what has become one of the UK's largest Higher Education/Further Education partnerships, which has significantly increased Higher Education opportunities for those seeking to learn, in the East of England. Throughout his time as Principal, Nick engendered the ethos of "inclusiveness" within the College which, together with a management style that has enabled growth in both quality and quantity of Further Education, culminated in such an excellent 2002 Ofsted report, putting the College into the top ten percent within the UK.

Nick was born into an educational environment in Ipswich (his father was a teacher and his mother worked in Social Services with the Children's Society) and so, Nick was educated, most thoroughly. First at Christ Hospital School in Sussex, then he went up to read a BA in English at Durham University, followed by a Diploma in Applied Linguistics at Edinburgh University and finally, was awarded the degree of Master of Education from Bath University.

He began his professional career in education, by gaining valuable school-teaching experience, first in Nigeria and later in Malaysia. Following this, he moved into Further Education in the UK, where his first appointment, in 1976, was as Lecturer in Frome, Somerset. He then became Senior Lecturer at High Peak College in Buxton, Derbyshire and followed this by selection as Head of Department at Chelmsford College, before becoming Vice-Principal at West Suffolk College in 1988. Seven years later he was appointed as Principal and during his term of office, led the College through three successful government inspections and a £5m investment programme.

Apart from his gardening, golf, violin playing and serving as a co-Patron of the charity Learning through Leisure with Holiday Explorers, Nick is also a great traveller. He has been to China three times and also visited Vietnam, Malaysia, Nigeria, India and is planning a trip to South Africa next year. Perhaps this extensive travelling has been the source of his "inclusive" vision for education? In his present role at the Learning & Skills Council, Nick continues to support the work of the Regional University Partnership through the provision of local access to the Higher Education experience and through helping to shape the strategy for a joint initiative in Suffolk and the East of England (so aptly designated Aim Higher) to encourage students from more diverse social backgrounds to consider the potential social, cultural and economic benefits of a university education. More recently, he has facilitated the provision of new Foundation Degrees envisaged to be delivered through the Higher Education/Further Education partnership. In this new context, Nick has already returned, formally, to address the APU Regional Principals Strategic Policy Group on the Learning & Skills Council's role in Foundation Degree development and contributed to the Regional University's (APU's) Development Day.

As Principal of West Suffolk College, Nick extended opportunities for education through his overseeing of growth in Further Education in Suffolk, provided a platform for access into local Higher Education, was an enthusiastic supporter of the Regional University Partnership and throughout all these strategic activities, he ensured that his own institution contributed to the Partnership's overall mission, by overseeing the growth of APU-registered students from around 70 in 1966 to almost 500 by 2002!

It is for these reasons, therefore, that I invite you, Vice-Chancellor, to confer on Nicholas John Foster, BA, MEd an Honorary Fellowship of this University."