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Professor of Higher Education and Principal, Green Templeton College, University of Oxford

David Watson (1949-2015) took office as the second Principal of Green Templeton College in October 2010. He was Professor of Higher Education in the University, until his death in February 2015, aged 65. He was a Visiting Professor at the Institute of Education, University of London and Adjunct Professor at James Cook University, Queensland.

His last book was "The Question of Conscience: Higher education and personal responsibility" (Institute of Education Press, 2014).

He was previously Professor of Higher Education Management at the Institute of Education, University of London (2005-2010), Vice-Chancellor of the University of Brighton (1990-2005), and Dean and Deputy Director of Oxford Polytechnic (1981-90). He read history at Clare College, Cambridge, where he was a Choral Exhibitioner and Open Scholar. He was a Thouron Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was awarded his doctorate in intellectual history in 1975.

He contributed widely to developments in UK higher education, including as a member of the Council for National Academic Awards (1977-1993), the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council (1988-92), and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (1992-96).

He was a member of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation's National Commission on Education (whose report Learning to Succeed was published in 1993), and the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education chaired by Sir Ron Dearing (whose report Higher Education in the Learning Society was published in 1997). He chaired the national Inquiry into the Future for Lifelong Learning, and co-authored its report Learning Through Life (2009).

He was knighted in 1998 for services to higher education.


  • 2010–present
    Principal, Green Templeton College, University of Oxford
  • 2005–2010
    Professor of Higher Education Management, Institute of Education
  • 1990–2005
    Vice-Chancellor, University of Brighton
  • 1981–1990
    Dean and Deputy Director, Oxford Polytechnic