Lifetime dedicated to education: Professor Sir William Taylor CBE

Sir William Taylor’s time as Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hull was followed by a plethora of international academic visits and advisory roles, including specialist adviser on higher education to House of Commons committees.

Sir William Taylor CBE moved to Hull to be Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hull from 1985 to 1991. He was a graduate of the London School of Economics (University of London) and his early career was as a teacher in secondary modern and primary schools. He went on to teaching posts at two Church Colleges of Education and the Department of Education at Oxford University, then was Professor of Education at Bristol University. 

He subsequently spent ten years as Director of the University of London Institute of Education, and two as Principal of the University of London, before becoming Vice-Chancellor at Hull. After retiring in 1991, he served as interim Vice-Chancellor at Huddersfield and Thames Valley, and interim Head of the Winchester School of Art.

During his career he served as Chair, President or specialist adviser to a number of UK, European and international educational organisations and committees, and undertook academic visits throughout the world, particularly to Australia.

During the 1990s, after his tenure at Hull, he responded to invitations to serve as full-time interim Vice Chancellor of Huddersfield University (1994-5) and Thames Valley University (1998-9). In 2004-5, he acted as Interim Head of the Winchester School of Art. 

He was an independent member of several governing bodies during the 1980s and 1990s, including Hymers College, Sevenoaks School, Christ Church University College and, from 1992 to 2002, the University of Glamorgan. He chaired the panel of the Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation, which is considered the Hong Kong Institute of Education’s application for degree-awarding status, and later completed two terms as a Governor of the Institute.

He was Academic Advisor to South East Essex College from 1999 to 2004 on the development of its relations with the University of Essex, and to the States of Jersey Education Committee concerning its postgraduate scholarship programme (2001-4). In 2001-2 he chaired the Universities UK (formerly CVCP) committee on the future funding of universities. He was Chair of Convocation of the University of London for three years in the late 1990s, and visiting Professor at the University of Southampton since 1998. 

Between 2000 and 2007 he served as specialist adviser on higher education to House of Commons committees during their enquiries into student retention, sustainability and the Bologna process. He was a Leverhulme Emeritus Research Fellow from 1994 to 1998.

From 2001 to 2005 he chaired Learning and Skills Council reviews and prepared reports and recommendations concerning Post-14 Education and Training on the Isle of Wight, in Southampton, in Portsmouth and in Hampshire as a whole. In 2008 to 2009 he chaired the Skills Commission’s enquiry into Apprenticeships.

He took an active part in international activities, undertaking academic visits to Australia (23 in total), Argentina, Botswana, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Hong Kong (PRC), Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, the United States and several European countries. He was for ten years President of the Council for World Citizenship. He was Visiting Professor at the University of Bloemfontein in 1992, and visited most of the Republic of South Africa’s universities. 

In the 1990s and early years of the present century he undertook institutional and area reviews and produced reports and recommendations for DFID, the Foreign Office and other bodies, such as Quinquennial Review of the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission, Book Aid International, overseas postgraduate scholarship schemes (now Chevening scholarships), Prince of Wales Scholarship scheme at Atlantic College, Seven Year Review f the University of Ulster, Governance of the University of Warwick, Henley Management College, University of Melbourne Institute of Education, and others. 

Principal publications include, as author: The Secondary Modern School; Society and the Education of Teachers; Heading for Change; ‘And Gladly Teach’; Research and Reform in Teach Education; Universities under Scrutiny. As editor and contributor: Towards a Policy for the Education of Teachers; Metaphors of Education; (with George Baron) Educational Administration and the Social Sciences; (with Brian Simon) Education in the Eighties; together with chapters in collections and articles and papers in education journals. He was a columnist for the Times Higher Education Supplement.

He was awarded honorary doctorates by Aston, Bristol Essex, Huddersfield, Hong Kong IoE, Hull, Kent at Canterbury, Kingston, Leeds, Leicester, Loughborough, London University, Open University, Southamptin, Thames Valley, University of the West of England, Ulster, Queens (Belfast), Plymouth and Glamorgan.

Sir William Taylor was made CBE in 1982 and knighted in 1990.

He died aged 92 in January 2023.

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