Paul Ramsden obituary

My husband, Paul Ramsden, who has died aged 68 after suffering from a pulmonary embolism, was an internationally respected expert on improving the quality of university teaching; he also promoted the validity of student feedback. He was appointed the first chief executive of the UK’s Higher Education Academy (HEA).

His books, Learning to Teach in Higher Education (1991) and Learning to Lead in Higher Education (1998) have inspired thousands of academics to improve their professional practice.

Born in Leeds to Mary (nee Ryder) and Ernest Ramsden, who worked in property insurance, he attended school locally and gained a BSc from the University of London and doctorate in education from Lancaster University before taking up a lecturing post at Newcastle Polytechnic (now Northumbria University).

In 1984 Paul emigrated to Australia accompanied by Elaine Martin; they married in 1993. Six years later he was appointed pro-vice chancellor (Teaching and Learning) at the University of Sydney.

He was the architect of the Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ), a central feature of quality assurance in Australian higher education and the model for the UK’s National Student Survey, launched in 2005. Paul encountered a great deal of resistance to the CEQ from those opposed to performance measures, including professionals who could not accept that student feedback should be used as an indicator of good teaching.

In 2004 Paul returned to the UK to become the founding chief executive of the HEA, the national body for promoting effective university teaching. In 2008 he served as an expert adviser to the British government on the future of teaching and the student experience, contributing a highly influential essay on the curriculum.

After leaving the HEA, he joined the management consultancy PhillipsKPA, continued to chair the International Advisory Board for the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education, advised the Irish government on its strategy for higher education and served as a visiting professor at what is now the UCL Institute of Education.

He received two Australian awards: in 2006 the inaugural Higher Education Quality award for his outstanding contributions to the practice of quality assurance and in 2014 a Career Achievement award from the Australian Office for Learning and Teaching.

We met in London in 2008, four years after his marriage to Elaine had ended in divorce, and we married in 2013. After his retirement two years later, Paul enjoyed his rural life in Hough on the Hill, Lincolnshire, although he never really readjusted to the British winter. He became something of a birdwatcher and finally realised his dream of building a model railway.

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