Lord Dearing dies

The man who helped shape the modern higher education landscape has passed away. John Gill reports

February 20, 2009

Ron Dearing, whose landmark review of higher education made him one of the sector’s most influential figures, has died.

Warm tributes have flooded in for a man whose sweeping review, which was published in 1997, fundamentally changed the landscape of UK higher education.

His legacy stretches from access to quality, but perhaps most significant was the part he played in the introduction of tuition fees.

The principle of fees was firmly established by his review, and fees remain one of the most controversial topics in higher education 12 years on.

Lord Dearing, who was also a member of the Times Higher Education editorial board, died on 19 February after a battle with cancer. He was 78.

David Greenaway, vice-chancellor of the University of Nottingham, remembered Lord Dearing, a former Nottingham chancellor, as someone who was “always humane and thoughtful”.

He said: “Those around him always knew they would be taken seriously; you never got the impression that he was going through the motions.

“He was a very intuitive character, and although he was not an academic he understood the value of education in general and higher education in particular.

“It was a real privilege to work with him. I know that is a bit of a cliché, but I genuinely mean it. He was a great man.”


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