John Sizer, 1938-2008

April 10, 2008

From humble beginnings working in the trawling and frozen food industries while studying for accountancy exams at Grimsby College of Further Education, John Sizer went on to become chief executive of the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council.

He took the exams of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, of which he later became a fellow, and went on to the University of Nottingham. He graduated in industrial economics in 1964 and, after a brief spell in industry, took a lectureship at the University of Edinburgh.

In 1970 he was appointed professor of financial management at Loughborough University, where he became dean of the School of Human and Environmental Studies and then senior pro vice-chancellor. He founded Loughborough Business School in 1991.

Alongside his work at Loughborough, from 1984 to 1989 he was a member of the University Grants Committee and adviser to the Universities Funding Council.

In 1992, three years after he was made a CBE, Professor Sizer became founding chief executive of the Scottish funding council, and, subsequently, was appointed chief executive of the council.

Under his leadership, which focused on Scottish national priorities, collaboration between institutions was encouraged through initiatives such as the Research Development Grant, which encouraged institutions to respond to the economic and social needs of communities.

At the same time, he was adamant that devolution of responsibility for Scotland's universities should not undermine their research competitiveness, and championed the international quality of Scotland's research base.

He retired in 2001 after nearly ten years as chief executive.

Professor Sizer's knowledge and experience of higher education policy was widely valued. He was chairman of the Society for Research in Higher Education and the Directing Group of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Institutional Management in Higher Education programme.

He also served on the Government's Foresight Programme Steering Group, the Science and Engineering Base Coordinating Committee, the Transparency Review Steering Group and the Financial Issues Advisory Group for the Scottish Parliament.

A prolific author, lecturer and consultant, his publications included An Insight into Management Accounting.

He died on 22 March after contracting pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his wife and three sons.

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