A strategic visionary

March 5, 1999

The THES does not do obituaries. We have not the space to be comprehensive nor the nerve to select. But Lord (David) Phillips of Ellesmere who died last week deserves acknowledgement from The THES for two reasons aside from his scientific brilliance.

The first is a matter of public record. His 1987 discussion document, A Strategy for the Science Base, written as chairman of the Advisory Board for the Research Councils, was one of those papers that was right too early. His vision of a three-tier higher education system of research (R) universities, teaching (T) universities and general universities that do both (X) is now slowly emerging. How many contortions might have been avoided if his proposal, adapted to the whole of higher education, had been implemented 12 years ago, before rather than after the polytechnics became universities and student participation rates doubled.

The second reason is a private debt owed by The THES. Lord Phillips was one of a small handful of people who, in the early 1990s, insistently pressed on The THES the importance of cyberspace. Thanks to them, The THES was the first News International title on the internet.

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