Financing of Higher education in European
Reflecting the changing ideological and economic perspectives of the government of the day, the expansion of higher education in England has prompted numerous reforms aimed at reshaping and restructuring the sector and its funding. Leading to student riots and sparking some of the sharpest controversies in British higher education, the reforms introduced in 2012/13 are by far the most radical, and those concerning higher education funding and student finances the most far-reaching. This book seeks to unpack the drivers for the reforms while locating them in a broad historical, ideological, and policy context. The longer term impact of the reforms is, of course, still unclear. Some have lamented the death of the public university, but on the whole the contributors to this volume take a more measured view, finds John Field.
What will England’s higher education landscape look like in 2020? It has shifted dramatically over the last two decades, partly in response to wider social and economic trends, which have greatly increased the demand for places, and the behaviours of academics and university managers have also helped shape the emerging contours. Nevertheless, the degree of politically-driven change has been remarkable. Since 1992, when the former polytechnics were awarded the title of universities and two separate funding councils were merged into one, politicians have rarely paused for breath before establishing yet another inquiry or drafting new legislation.
Lord Browne’s committee – which was asked to examine the financing of higher education institutions and students, but ended up addressing a range of other topics as well – reported in 2010, and is only the latest major review of the sector. The government outlined its response in the 2011 White Paper, and it is the impact of this new policy agenda that Browne and Beyond seeks to address. It looks as though the authors were writing their chapters in late 2013, so that their responses are inevitably hedged with the recognition that we still don’t know what the longer term consequences will be. And – like Browne’s committee – the book barely mentions the research function of universities, or their wider role in the business and civic domains.