Donnish Dominion Supreme? The University Grants Committee and the Governance of the English Universities

  • Ourania FilippakouEmail author
  • Ted Tapper
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Education book series (BRIEFSEDUCAT)


This opening chapter analyses the structure of governance that controlled the English university system for much of its history, from 1919 to 1988. The UGC was a quasi-state body responsible for steering the development of the English universities. It did so under the auspices of the Treasury until 1964, thereafter the Department for Education and Science. Throughout most of its history it respected the principle of university autonomy with the individual institutions being able to determine their own course of development. Post-1945 the operations of the UGC came under increasing pressure as there were demands to increase and diversify the social character of the student body, as the university had to accommodate an increasingly expanding sector of higher education, the polytechnics, and those broad-based political demands in the 1970s to pressure the universities into helping the nation resolve its economic difficulties. The end result was the emergence of a diversified tertiary model of higher education, the demise beginning seriously in 1988 of the UGC and the subsequent emergence of the funding council model of governance with policy direction in the hands of the incumbent government with the funding councils confined to ensuring policy implementation. What we have witnessed is the emergence of a more tightly regulated model of higher education.


Autonomy Public funding System diversity 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationBrunel University LondonUxbridgeUK
  2. 2.Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies (OxCheps)New College, OxfordOxfordUK

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