'His time at the Institut Laue-Langevin not only made him a keen francophile, it convinced him of the importance of European contacts for British institutions'
This is the fourth year that Sir Brian Fender has presided over a higher education funding round, but he has been interested in what it produces for much longer.
He has been chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England since 1995 and was vice-chancellor at Keele for ten years before that.He was chairman-elect of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors when appointed to the HEFCE post.
Proud of having raised Keele's research profile, at HEFCE he has been careful to share rewards between research and teaching and new and old universities. He also began a review of the funding system instituted by his predecessor, and he has introduced an element for teaching quality.
From Carlisle Grammar School and Sale County Grammar School, he went on to study for a BSc and PhD in physical chemistry at Imperial College. After postdoctorate work in the US, he worked at the National Chemical Laboratory in Oxford. There he became involved in administration, joining Hebdomadal Council in 1977 and chairing the admissions office management committee.
His academic interests include neutron scattering, which led to his appointment as assistant director and later director of Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble, France. This not only made him a keen francophile, it convinced him of the importance of European contacts for UK institutions. He has also said it gave him a management style that relies on visiting and talking to people.
Colleagues at the West Midlands Arts Board, where he is an active vice-chairman, describe him as "a true networker" as well as a "profound thinker who can see deeper into a well than anyone else".
In his long time on the former Science and Engineering Research Council, he was an advocate of multidisciplinary research.
Married twice, with a son and three daughters, he escapes from funding formulas through an interest in modern art.
People is edited by Harriet Swain and researched by Lynne Williams.
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