The speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, is to become the next chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire, it has been revealed in Parliament.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions today, MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, Nadine Dorries, offered her congratulations to Mr Bercow on his new position.
After thanking the speaker for giving her the floor, Ms Dorries said: “May I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your new role as chancellor of Bedfordshire University.” A video of the exchange (above) was posted online by Alex Wickham, a reporter on the Guido Fawkes political blogging site.
Ms Dorries’ congratulations came before any official announcement by the university, and it is unclear whether the appointment had been finalised when she made the comments. When Times Higher Education contacted the university earlier this afternoon, a spokesman was at first unable to confirm or deny the appointment.
However, in a statement issued later, university vice-chancellor Bill Rammell confirmed that Mr Bercow, who is MP for Buckingham, would be installed as chancellor in June.
“John is a constituency neighbour of the university’s main campuses, in Luton and Bedford, and in particular its newest location, University Campus Milton Keynes,” he said.
“[He] is very committed to our mission to widen participation in higher education and he will be a tremendous ambassador for the university and our work in transforming lives and communities.”
Mr Bercow said he was “delighted and honored” to be named chancellor.
The appointment means that the University of Bedfordshire will have a former Labour minister for universities as vice-chancellor, and the current speaker of the House of Commons as chancellor.
The current chancellor, Baroness Howells of St David’s, who has been in the role since 2009, is to retire.