Former Chancellor of the University of Nottingham and education reformist Lord Ron Dearing has died aged 78. National newspapers have paid tribute to the man who fundamentally changed the landscape of higher education through his 1997 report recommending the introduction of tuition fees. At the time, universities were in a state of crisis due to a dramatic drop in the amount of funding they received per student. It was Lord Dearing’s pragmatic solutions to problems such as this that led to him being nicknamed the ‘Great Conciliator’ and education’s ‘Mr. Fixit’.
Further examples of his contribution to the world of education include the introduction of AS-Levels and making the teaching of foreign languages compulsory in primary schools. A long-serving civil servant, Dearing also held positions in the Treasury and Department of Trade and Industry as well as being Chairman of the Post Office from 1981 to 1987.
As Chancellor of the University between 1993 and 2000, Dearing oversaw such significant developments as the establishment of a campus in Malaysia and the opening of Jubilee Campus, where a building was named after him in 2001. The current Vice-Chancellor David Greenaway describes Dearing as “always humane and thoughtful”, adding that, “his influence on our University will be long-lasting and fondly remembered”. Dearing will also be remembered for being consistently unpretentious. When his job provided him with a chauffeur-driven car, Dearing insisted on driving the chauffeur home at night and picking him up on the way to work in the morning.