Open Eye: Opening up - Gill strikes a new note

Gill Tucker started a challenging new job this month as Pro Vice- Chancellor at the University of East London. The appointment makes her the university's senior academic - and, appropriately for an OU Grad, her responsibilities include access and lifelong learning.

She is an accomplished musician who followed a Masters in Music from Kings College, London, with a music research scholarship in Munich, then her OU maths study helped to spark a change of direction.

What was your family background?

I come from Bromley in Kent. My father was an industrial chemist and my mother did office work but gave it up to bring up children. Apart from one cousin, I was the only one in my family to go to university.

What was your earliest ambition?

From my earliest years I was potty about music. I went to my first prom concert at the age of five. I started playing the piano late, at 13, because until then we lived in a flat where we couldn't have one.

How were your school years?

OK. I went to what was then Beckenham Grammar School for Girls where they totally supported me in my musical studies. In the sixth form they even paid for me to have lessons from a Royal Academy of Music professor.

What was your first job and what did you earn?

I suppose my first real job was a junior research fellowship in music at Somerville College, Oxford, in 1979, where I earned pounds 2,000 a year. My first permanent job was lecturer in music at Oxford Polytechnic (now Oxford Brookes University) in 1982.

What made you start studying with the OU?

At Oxford Polytechnic I was working in a very esoteric branch of music research - music analysis - some of which was supposedly based on mathematical principles. I was very sceptical whether these principles were really valid in a musical context, but couldn't argue the case because I didn't know enough about maths. My first idea was to do a maths `A' level, because I only had an `O' level in the subject, but a friend said "Why don't you do a degree with the Open University?". I did the maths foundation course, as it was then, and it was a revelation. I loved it. In all I did four maths courses over four years.

What difference has the OU made?

Up to that date I had had an elitist education - grammar school, conservatoire, Oxford University. The combination of my experience at the OU, meeting other students and seeing what a struggle some of them had had educationally, and going to work at Oxford Polytechnic, was an eye-opener. I came out of music research, and became interested in education, and what it could do for students in an inclusive way. I eventually became head of learning and teaching at Oxford Brookes in 1996. And the maths study answered my question - I decided that the mathematical principles weren't valid!

What does your new job involve?

The University of East London is highly committed to access and widening participation. I'll be leading the academic agenda. The students are mostly local and there are a lot of mature students, and students from ethnic minorities. There's a lot of regeneration going on in the area and the new Docklands campus is going to open soon.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

That I can develop things in the university which are beneficial for students. Education is a lifeline for many people - it is a way of pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.

... and least?

Education cuts which mean that what we are trying to do becomes more difficult year by year.

Would you do more OU study? If so, what?

I probably won't have time. But I would recommend it to anyone.

To what do your attribute your success?

A lot of people have given me chances and opened doors for me, but I suppose I would have to say persistence and dedication. And my education.

What are your goals for the future?

To change the values of the British education system. We have not fully thought through the implications of the change to mass higher education. The research assessment exercise is still the dominant agenda, which means staff are rewarded more overtly for good research than for good teaching, to the detriment of the sector.

How would you like to be remembered?

As a contributor to British higher education on behalf of students.

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

    £17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

    The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

    The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

    £30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there