Saul Becker

Professor of Social Care Research and Education Practice
University of Cambridge

Professor Saul Becker is the Andrew and Virginia Rudd Professor of Social Care Research and Education Practice in the Faculty of Education, Cambridge. He is regarded as the world leader for research on ‘young carers’ – children who provide (unpaid) care to ill, disabled and other family members, including those with mental health problems and substance misuse who have a need for care, support and supervision from family members (‘informal carers’). He is invited around the world to talk about his 30-year research programme (to date) and its findings and implications for policy and practice, and he currently advises Governments, policy-makers and professionals/service providers in a number of countries. In 2019, he was recognised by Universities UK for this work, as one of the ‘Nation’s Lifesavers’ – ‘100 individuals or groups based in universities whose work is making a life-changing difference’. In 2020, AccessHE named him as a ‘Role Model’ for his research which has ‘put young carers at the heart of many universities widening participation plans’. In 2020, the national charity, Carers Trust, appointed him as their first ever Ambassador, to represent and speak out for unpaid family carers of all ages. His public engagement and influencing work, closely aligned with his research on vulnerable children, care and caring, shows itself in over 150 radio interviews, 9 television documentaries, Tedx, and more recently (2020) a 25 minute interview with Andrew Marr on the ‘future of caring in Britain’.


Saul has 340 publications including 18 authored and edited books. Additionally, he has 230 conference papers, most as keynote invited speaker (including over 50 as keynote speaker at international conferences). For 19 years (2000-19) he was the Founding Commissioning Editor of the Bristol University Press/Policy Press book series, ‘Understanding Welfare’, with 21 books in print. He was also the Chair of the learned society – the Social Policy Association (2004-08).

He has been the Principal Investigator on 56 research awards in open competition, with a total value to date of £3.2m. These have included awards from Horizon 2020, ESRC, Rowntree Foundation, Swiss National Fund, Princess Royal Trust for Carers, Carers Trust, Gulbenkian Foundation, and many health, social services and local authorities.

Saul was Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sussex from 2017-21. He had day-to-day management and strategic leadership responsibilities for all academic matters. Prior to that he was Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Birmingham and Head of the College of Social Sciences (2014-17); Assistant Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation, Faculty Director of Research (Social Sciences) and Head of the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham (2006-14); and Professor of Social Policy at Loughborough University (2000-2004).

He has been Director of Research at Birmingham University for the Institute of Applied Social Studies (2004-06); the first Director of Research for the Faculty of Social Sciences at Nottingham University (7 Schools, 2013-14). He has been responsible for REF coordination/leadership in the Social Sciences at both Birmingham and Nottingham. He was a REF 2014 Panel Member for Unit of Assessment 22 (Social Work and Social Policy). His REF2014 impact case study (on young carers) was highlighted by HEFCE as an example of world leading 4* impact. That impact continues today.

Finally, Saul is a registered social worker with Social Work England (since 2005), one of the few academics to maintain their professional social work registration alongside their academic and research work. He is also a recognised Community Organiser, having established three Citizens UK Branches – at the universities of Nottingham, Birmingham and Sussex. Saul has a number of active charitable roles in national and local charities, mostly concerned with informal family carers and young carers in particular.