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Sir David Bell KCB - Vice-Chancellor – University of Reading

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Sir David Bell KCB - Vice-Chancellor


vc-Sir-David-BellSir David Bell is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading.

Since taking up his post on 1 January 2012, Sir David has led a major investment in academic posts in the University's key research areas. He is spearheading the University's development of a campus in Malaysia (due to open in 2015) as part of the University's ambitious internationalisation strategy. A key priority for Sir David is to maintain the University's position as one of the top 1% in the world.

In the UK, he has overseen increases in student applications to the University under the new UK tuition fees system. As the leader and figurehead of the University, Sir David dedicates a significant amount of his time to building partnerships with key bodies and stakeholders and ensuring a strong external profile for the University.

As Vice-Chancellor, Sir David has general responsibility to the University governing body, the Council, for maintaining and promoting the effectiveness, efficiency and good order of the University. He chairs the Senate and the Senior Management Board, and is an ex-officio member of all major committees in the University, many of which he chairs. He represents the University on Universities UK and is the principal channel of communication with the Higher Education Funding Council, other universities, outside bodies and the general public.

Sir David Bell is paid £230,000 per annum and is a member of the University (USS) pension scheme. His salary and conditions of service are independently determined by the Remuneration Committee, in which he plays no part. The remuneration reflects the skills required and demands involved in leading a complex, successful, multi-million pound organization, which is operating in an increasingly competitive, global market.


Sir David Bell's extensive 30-year career has included many of the UK's top education jobs. As well as being Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools, he spent six years as Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education.

Sir David was born in Glasgow in March 1959. Educated at a comprehensive school in his native Glasgow, he studied history and philosophy at the University of Glasgow and obtained his PGCE from Jordanhill College of Education. He then went onto receive a Master of Education degree in Management and Administration, also from the University of Glasgow. Sir David holds honorary degrees from the University of Strathclyde and De Montfort University, as well as being an Honorary Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Administration.

Sir David began his career as a primary school teacher and later became a head teacher. He then moved to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, ending up as Director of Education and Libraries between 1995 and 2000. Sir David's last post in local government was as Chief Executive of Bedfordshire County Council between 2000 and 2002.

As Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools in England (2002 -2005) Sir David oversaw the inspection system in England, encompassing schools, colleges, local authorities, teacher education and childcare. Sir David encouraged much more rigorous self-evaluation as part of the inspection system and led the introduction of new shorter, sharper inspection frameworks.

As Permanent Secretary to the Department for Education (2006 - 2011), Sir David held the most senior civil service role in education in the UK. During this time, he served four Secretaries of State and three Prime Ministers. Under the first Coalition education minister for 60 years, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Sir David helped to implement one of the most substantial education reform programmes in recent times.

Sir David spent a year as a Harkness Fellow at Georgia State University, Atlanta, in the 1990s studying education and local government reform across the United States of America. For two years in the 1980s, Sir David was a tutor on an Open University postgraduate MA in education management.

Sir David became a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2011 Birthday Honours.

He is married with two adult daughters. His hobbies include reading, American politics, keeping fit, football, in particular AFC Rushden and Diamonds, and, occasionally, Scottish country dancing.

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