Distinguished Oxford University scholar and leading figure in the world of British higher education John Barron has died aged 74.

His time in Oxford began in 1953, when he came up to Balliol College to read classics, where he was greatly influence by his tutors Kenneth Dover, Gordon Williams and Russell Meiggs.

He would later go on to publish several works which are still highly regarded to this day, among them the 1966 book The Silver Coins of Samos, an account of the history of the Greek island of the same name.

His first academic post was not to be in Oxford, but rather at Bedford College, in London, where he took up the post of assistant lecturer in Latin.

It was at this time that he met his wife Caroline Hogarth, the grand-daughter of the prominent archaeologist DG Hogarth and herself a leading historian.

The couple were married in 1962 and went on to have two daughters together, Catherine and Helen.

For 20 years from 1971, he was professor of Greek at King's College London. He was also director of the Institute of Classical Studies of London University (1984-91).

Dr Barron's success in these positions eventually brought him back to Oxford in 1991 as master of St Peter's College, where he was to remain until his retirement in 2003.

During his time there, Dr Barron was active in raising the female proportion of undergraduates at the college from below 30 per cent to about 50 per cent and helping to move the college up the Norrington Table — which ranks colleges according to degree pass rates.

It was also during his time that the college acquired part of the Oxford Castle site and developed three new halls of residence.

After serving two successive five-year terms as master, he was invited by St Peter's to extend his term by another two years.

From 1997 to 2000, Dr Barron was an active chairman of the university's admissions committee, where he constantly pushed for the university to attract a wider range of applicants.

Dr Barron passed away on August 16. He is survived by his wife and their two children.