After reading History at Cambridge, Martin Gaskell undertook his PhD at the University of Sheffield, specialising in Victorian industrialisation and housing reform. He has subsequently written extensively on housing and town planning in Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as contributing to educational journals and collections of essays.
However, his career has been primarily concerned with higher education policy and management. After a period at the Council for National Academic Awards as Registrar for Humanities and then Art and Design, he became Assistant, and then Deputy Rector of Liverpool John Moores University (formerly Liverpool Polytechnic), followed by a term as Deputy Provost of London Guildhall University (formerly the City of London Polytechnic). From 1989 to 2002, he was Rector of the University of Northampton (formerly Nene College). During that time, he was, inter alia, Chairman of the Standing Conference of Principals, a Board Member of the Higher Education Statistics Agency and of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, and Chairman of HE European Social Fund.
On retirement from Northampton, he was appointed Director of Studies of St George’s House, Windsor Castle, a residential centre for confidential consultations established by the Duke of Edinburgh. In 2008, he was invited to become Director of the Hawthornden Literary Retreat.
He sits on a number of bodies concerned with higher and further education, and he undertakes various educational consultancies.
He lives in Northamptonshire, where he is a Deputy Lieutenant and, among a range of charitable commitments, he is a Governor of St Andrew’s Hospital, Ambassador for Tresham College of Further Education, Trustee of the Core Theatre in Corby, Trustee of the Victoria County History and a Vice-President of the County Record Society.
He holds an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Leicester.