Sir Ron picks dream team

May 17, 1996

Sir Ron Dearing's recipe for a well-balanced and dynamic committee of inquiry into higher education appears to be flavour of the month among the academic community, writes Tony Tysome.

Vice chancellors, college heads, and student and lecturers' union leaders have pledged support for the composition of the committee, announced last Friday.

The 17-strong team has been carefully chosen by Sir Ron to reflect the sector's diversity as well as regional concerns and the needs of higher education's "customers".

A sub-committee for Scotland is also to be set up by the main committee, and will consider the possible establishment of various splinter groups to focus on regional and other issues within the framework of the overall inquiry.

John Arbuthnott, vice chancellor of the University of Strathclyde and convener for the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals will represent Scottish interests. Professor Arbuthnott will also be valuable to the committee for his involvement in information technology initiatives, including the chairmanship of the funding councils' Joint Information Systems Committee and membership of the Department of Trade and Industry's multimedia advisory group.

Adrian Webb, vice chancellor of the University of Glamorgan, is one of two Welsh members. He is a leading light in the development of adult and continuing education in Wales, and a firm proponent of flexible higher education.

Simon Wright, the student representative, is also from Wales. He is education and welfare officer and academic affairs officer elect for the student union at the University of Wales, Cardiff. He has been elected onto the National Union of Students higher education committee.

Judith Evans, director of corporate personnel at Sainsbury's, is one of five captains of industry. The others are: Ron Garrick, managing director and chief executive of the Weir Group; David Potter, chairman of Psion Plc; Sir George Quigley, chairman of Ulster Bank; Sir Richard Sykes, deputy chairman and chief executive of Glaxo Wellcome Plc.

Science is represented by Sir Ronald Oxburgh, rector of Imperial College, and Sir David Weatherall, Regius professor of Medecine at Oxford University.

The post-16 sector falls to Sir William Stubbs, chief executive of the Further Education Funding Council for England and rector designate of the London Institute.

Other members are: Sir Geoffrey Holland, vice chancellor of Exeter University and former permanent secretary at the departments of education and employment.

David Watson, director of the University of Brighton, is also chair of the Universities Association for Continuing Education and until this month chair of the Higher Education Funding Council for England's quality assessment committee.

Diana Laurillard, pro-vice chancellor (technology development) at the Open University provides expertise in the field of IT in education.

Pam Morris, headteacher at The Blue School in Wells, Somerset, represents the school sector.

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde (formerly Brenda Dean), trade unionist, former member of various watchdog bodies, and a member of the Council of Legal Education, qualifies as a good all-rounder.

Certainly one of her recreational pursuits listed in Who's Who, "thinking", should stand her in good stead over the next 12 months.

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