Robert was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester for 15 years from 2001-14, and is currently President of the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE).
He is Chair of the Higher Education Academy (HEA), the UUK/Guild HE Teacher Education Advisory Group and NatCen Social Research. He is also a member of the UCEA Board and an Academician of the Academy of the Social Sciences.
He was knighted in 2010 for services to higher education locally and nationally.
He has held national roles in a range of major organisations including: President of the British Sociological Association, President of the Association for the Teaching of the Social Sciences and Founding Chair of the UK Council for Graduate Education. He has been a member of the Council of the Economic and Social Research Council and a member of the British Library Board. He has also been Chair of the Postgraduate Training Board of the Economic and Social Research Council and Chair of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and the Research Information Network.