Lord Dearing, civil servant whose report recommended that students should pay for their university education

“It was in 1996 that Ron Dearing, who has died aged 78, and his National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education began work on what became the report Higher Education in the Learning Society. Dearing took in 240 meetings and 380 public submissions. Some 14 months later, the 2,000 pages of the first major report on higher education since the Robbins Report of 1963 was published. Throughout Dearing’s years of public service, he had a view of society which was both compassionate and practical. What he and his colleagues did, for good or ill, with that report was set an agenda for higher education that has lasted ever since. There were 93 recommendations in all, but it was a proposal to make students pay for their university education that caused shockwaves. It was accepted by the incoming secretary of state for higher education, David Blunkett. This was, argued Professor Sir David Watson of London University’s Institute of Education – and another member of the committee – ‘one of the most eagerly awaited and arguably most distinctive acts of the New Labour government’. Dearing produced his report at a time when universities were in a state of chaos …” (more)

[Roy Hattersley, Guardian, 23 February]

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