Michael Gunn, who has been in the top role at Staffordshire since 2011, replaces Michael Driscoll, vice-chancellor of Middlesex University, who has been acting chair since January.
Professor Gunn, a former pro vice-chancellor at the University of Derby, said he “wholeheartedly” endorsed the group’s “unique focus on the wider interests of students, the economy and society”.
“Britain needs new ideas and markets to revitalise our regions and meet the challenges of the modern world,” he said.
“This will require politicians and university leaders to have the vision to invest in the talent of our students and graduates and the imagination to rethink research and innovation funding to exploit fully the potential of all universities.
“The opportunity to study at university is also about the search for a more just and equal society. I am determined that this remains on the agenda.”
Professor Driscoll, who held the acting role since Patrick McGhee, former vice-chancellor of University of East London, stepped down suddenly due to ill health, said Professor Gunn “would provide the necessary leadership and conviction”.
He added that he would also “make the case for the investment in higher education which students, universities and the economy need”.