In the news: Bob Fryer

December 7, 2001

Bob Fryer's appointment as chief executive designate of the National Health Service University this week seems appropriate.

Professor Fryer, director of the University of Southampton New College, has a long history of involvement in lifelong learning, which is at the heart of the NHSU.

He heads the National Advisory Group for Lifelong Learning that advised on the government's Learning Age green paper of February 1998 and was principal of the Northern College for Residential Adult Education in Barnsley.

With a reputation for being passionately committed to lifelong learning - in fact to transforming the UK's educational culture - his lack of experience in health is not perceived as a problem. In fact, in the fraught political world of the NHS, it is seen by some as an advantage.

But when it was first rumoured that Professor Fryer would head the NHSU, his involvement as board member of the University for Industry caused some nervousness. The UfI ran into trouble over the use of the university title. Professor Fryer's assurances this week that the NHSU will go through the correct channels in seeking university status indicates his sensitivity to the issue.

Professor Fryer received his secondary education at the City of Oxford High School for Boys and went on to a degree at Christ's College, Cambridge, in medieval and modern languages. He moved back to Oxford to do a diploma in social and administrative studies.

After a stint at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology as a lecturer in sociology, he went to Warwick University where he eventually became dean of faculty. In 1983, he became principal of the Northern College, leaving in 1998 to move to Southampton.

Professor Fryer is a member of the Labour Party. He also acts and directs in amateur theatre.

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