Jay Blades outside BNU sign

Our Chancellor

Our Chancellor: Jay Blades MBE

Jay Blades MBE is the first Chancellor of Buckinghamshire New University, where he was a student before launching a career which has seen him rise to award-winning broadcaster, modern furniture restorer, social entrepreneur and receive an MBE in 2021 for services to craft.   

Brought up by his mother on a council estate in Hackney, Jay’s journey has taken many twists and turns. After leaving school at 15 with no qualifications, he got back on track by studying for a degree in criminology and philosophy at BNU from 2001 where his dyslexia was both identified and supported by then University. 


Jay Blades recalls his ‘revelatory’ experience at BNU where tailored digital learning support and inspirational teaching set him ‘on the right path towards the future’ and added:   

“I believe everything, including furniture and people, can be repaired, restored, and rejuvenated. At BNU I learned to make the most of every opportunity to be the best version of myself. That’s why I’m so proud and honoured to be appointed as the first Chancellor for a university that shares my passionate belief in the power of education to transform lives. It’s great to come full circle and now do my bit at BNU to ensure that every student reaches their full potential. This is an exciting partnership that’s going to make a real difference because BNU and I share a mission to remove barriers to education for all and boost social mobility.”

Jay tapped into High Wycombe’s rich history of craft and furniture after his graduation by co-founding the Out of the Dark charitable social enterprise that recycled and revamped salvaged furniture to train, educate and employ young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.   

BNU is working with Jay to develop new furniture-related courses and facilities, as part of a £15.1m programme to develop its High Wycombe Campus, and create legacy projects to provide opportunities and benefits for both students and local communities.