Robert Burgess was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester (a post he has held for fifteen years until September 2014) and was Chair of the Higher Education Academy, the UUK/Guild HE Teacher Education Advisory Group and a member of the UCEA Board. He is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences and chairs the UUK/Guild HE Implementation Group on the Higher Education Achievement Report and Degree Classification and the group on Grade Point Average as well as the Board of NatCen Social Research . He is also chair of the group reviewing the implementation of RCUK policy on Open Access. He was awarded a Knighthood in 2010 for services to Higher Education locally and nationally and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Midlands Business Awards in February 2012.
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 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. He has also been Chair of the East Midlands Universities Association and Honorary Secretary of the Society for Research in Higher Education (now its President).
He joined the GSM London Board of Directors as Chair in 2015.