Since 1991, Richard Smethurst has been the Provost of Worcester College, Oxford. In the United Kingdom, Richard Smethurst has been active in national adult education, having served as Honorary Chairman of the Universities Council for Adult Education, President of the Thames Regional Workers Education Association and President of the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education in the United Kingdom.
An economist with a distinguished academic record, Richard Smethurst spent the early part of his career between academia and government. He was a lecturer in economics and Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford, and he contributed to national economic policy through his membership on the covenant office advisory staff.
In 1976, he was appointed Director of the Department for External Studies (now the Department for Continuing Education). Under his leadership, the department greatly strengthened its academic base and the range of its coverage. Professor Smethurst also transformed the physical structure of the department (Rewley House) into the modern facility that is now an important part of the University of Oxford. This was made possible through his strong links with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which provided most of the support for the physical transformation of the department. While Director, he was elected to the chief governing bodies of the University. From 1986 through 1989 he was the Deputy Chairman of the United Kingdom Monopolies and Mergers Commission.
Richard Smethurst has lectured and written widely on the application of economics to adult and continuing education. Major recent contributions are Sesame and Lilies: Women and Adult Education, Education: A Public or Private Good, Adam Smith, and Lifelong Learning.
Professor Richard Smethurst's lasting contribution to adult education is his great success in integrating within Oxford University university-wide programs for continuing education.