Mark Bickerton, 1963-2013

A passionate advocate of international education has died

January 9, 2014

Mark Bickerton was born in Solihull on 23 May 1963, the son of a jeweller, and studied mathematics at the University of London before going on to do an MSc in operational research at the University of Warwick. Completing this in 1984, he initially worked as an operational research analyst for the Ford Motor Company, where extensive travel across Europe helped to forge the international outlook that was to prove so central to his subsequent career.

In 1988, however, Mr Bickerton decided to take up a position teaching mathematics and business statistics at what was then the Polytechnic of North London. Rapidly promoted into a managerial role, he became assistant dean of the business school, where he pioneered the serious use of statistical analysis within higher education planning.

Further promotion followed in 1997 when Mr Bickerton was appointed international director of what had become the University of North London. When this, in turn, merged with London Guildhall University to become London Metropolitan University in 2002, he stayed on as director of the international office until his death.

A keen traveller, Mr Bickerton was fascinated by transport systems such as the Japanese rail network, and loved photographing and discovering the art and culture of distant places. This open-mindedness proved invaluable in his international role at London Met. He was an enthusiastic early user of social media as a means of engaging partners, agents and prospective students around the world. And every Christmas he would ensure that the international students alone in London were well looked after, sometimes inviting them into his own home over the festive period.

His contribution to international education was recognised in 2005, when Mr Bickerton was honoured with an award from the UK-Pakistan Nazia Hassan Foundation, an organisation set up “to promote the interaction of ideas, values, cultures and philosophies among the young migrants and the local populations”.

Mel MacCarthy, head of international admissions and partnerships at London Met, recalls Mr Bickerton as a man of global outlook who “loved the cultural explosion of the 1980s” and “used the whole canvas of London as his panorama. He devoted much of his energy to getting talented but very poor individuals to come to London to study, while also ensuring they always got a chance to engage with the culture of London.”

Mr Bickerton died of a heart attack on 18 November and is survived by his long-term partner.

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