Team player

Roger McClure's specialist knowledge makes him the perfect candidate to bring together further and higher education

July 3, 2008

Roger McClure, who unexpectedly left the post of chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council in April, has had one of the shortest retirements on record, already landing not one but two jobs.

Mr McClure was due to retire from the SFC in 2010, but said that leaving early would allow his successor free rein over the next corporate plan period. But he made it clear that he was open to new opportunities.

This month, he becomes chief executive of the new Learning and Skills Improvement Service, and on 1 August, he succeeds Geoff Peters as chair of the Joint Academic Network (JANET). Both organisations are happy for him to do the jobs in tandem: the JANET post is just over a day a month. Mr McClure said: "They fit together well because they both have, to differing degrees, a strong ambassadorial 'getting-out-and-about' component. So travel synergies should be a benefit, and also there is scope to do more with further education on the joint academic network."

LSIS is the new body to improve the quality of England's further education sector, replacing the Quality Improvement Agency and the Centre for Excellence in Leadership. "It makes sense to put the two bodies together," Mr McClure said. "How can you have an improvement service that doesn't embrace the leadership of the institutions?"

When Mr McClure announced his retirement, he told Times Higher Education: "Quite apart from energy and undiminished enthusiasm, I think I have a huge store of knowledge that, probably uniquely, covers both sectors."

He was the University Grants Committee's first financial adviser, the director of finance at the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council, and the architect of the Further Education Funding Council's funding methodology. He was also pro rector at the former London Institute.

As chief executive of both the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council and the Scottish Further Education Funding Council, he oversaw their merger into one funding body, confessing that he was "a compulsive problem-solver".

Since the Scottish funding bodies already shared a secretariat, they were arguably easier to merge than the LSIS, which brings together a private organisation in London, CEL, with a public body in Coventry, the QIA, but Mr McClure is enthusiastic about the challenge.

He is also looking forward to his role at JANET. Its genesis as a higher education network has made it a world leader because of its high bandwidth, and it should now be rolled out further, he believes. "It's already serving the universities and colleges, and now the schools. That link has begun to open the door into local authorities."

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