Jim Port, 1948-2016

A management consultant whose many studies of the sector gained him an OBE in higher education has died

September 29, 2016
Obituary: Jim Port, 1948-2016

Jim Port was born in London on 7 April 1948 and educated at City of London School, where he won a scholarship to the University of Oxford to study chemistry.

He was an enthusiastic oarsman, rowing as stroke in his college first eight, and stayed on in Oxford for a DPhil in theoretical chemistry, followed by post-doctoral research in Paris under a Royal Society European Fellowship programme.

In 1974, he left the academy and worked as a civil servant in the Treasury and the departments of education and science, the environment and transport before joining KPMG (1984-89), where he was mainly employed in the public sector and higher education consultancy groups.

In 1989, Dr Port decided to branch out on his own and set up J M Consulting. Here he led a number of strategic and financial management projects in higher education and produced a series of publications for British national bodies.

One was the 1999 Transparency Review to the Science and Engineering Base Co-ordinating Committee, which led to the development of the Transparent Approach to Costing and later Full Economic Costing for academic research.

Another government-funded review (2001) examined the investment needs of the higher education infrastructure for research and teaching, resulting in new capital grant programmes and better understanding of issues around sustainability. A third report for the Financial Sustainability Strategy Group (2011) assessed the sustainability of higher education institutions.

As well as working closely with British government departments, research and funding councils, Dr Port produced a report titled In the Edge (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2004), which compared the systems of management and governance for higher education across eight different countries. He also advised governmental organisations in regions including Australia, Hong Kong, Ireland, the Netherlands and Singapore.

In addition to his 2011 OBE, Dr Port was awarded an honorary fellowship by Cardiff Metropolitan University and served on university boards of government in roles such as chair of the finance committee.

Diagnosed with cancer in 2008, Dr Port decided to cut back on his consultancy work so as to spend more time with his family, including a number of trips abroad. As well as exploring Mediterranean islands, they “flashpacked” across South-East Asia and South America, and walked both the Inca Trail in Peru and the Routeburn Track in New Zealand.

Dr Port died on 18 August and is survived by his wife Melanie, a son and a daughter.


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