Alan George Smithers is an English academic psychologist and public policy advisor best known for his research and publications in the field of education.
He was originally a research scientist in plant physiology. From 1962 to 1964 he lectured in biology at the College of St Mark and St John in Chelsea, then botany at Birkbeck College from 1964 to 1967.
He became involved in education as a subject when, in the 1960s, the University of London, where he lectured, began introducing modular degrees. This led to a secondment at the newly elevated University of Bradford. There he re-qualified as a psychologist before becoming Senior Lecturer in Education in 1969. He became a professor at the University of Manchester at the age of 37. He has successively occupied four chairs: Professor of Education at the University of Manchester (1976–96); Professor of Policy Research at Brunel University (1996-8); Sydney Jones Professor of Education at the University of Liverpool (1998–2004); and currently as Director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham (2004 to present). He was elected as one of the first three fellows of the Society for Research in Higher Education in 1986. He was seconded to BP from September 1991 to August 1992 to help it think more systematically about the value of its education programmes.
Areas with which Smithers has been associated include choice and selection in education, social variation between schools, qualifications and assessment, physics education, international comparisons of educational achievement, headship, teacher training, recruitment and retention, technical and further education, the independent/state divide, single-sex and coeducation, and higher education.