The UGC and Selective Cuts in Public Funding: Moving Towards a More Nuanced Model of the University and Beyond Institutional Autonomy

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


This chapter explores the implications for the traditional model of the English university of the sharp cuts in public funding announced in the UGC’s Circular Letter 1981/82. The funding cuts were a consequence of government policy; although there were some who felt that the UGC should have resigned and have refused to impose them. One big issue was the selective imposition of the cuts—the financial pain was not experienced equally! One big problem is that there seemed to be a lack of criteria to guide the cuts and it was unclear as to what was the evidence used to guide the decisions. But clearly the UGC was abandoning the principle of institutional autonomy, cutting student numbers in the university sector, and encouraging academics to take early retirement. The research model of the university emerged as the preferred template and the universities became more managed institutions as they started to implement long-term academic planning. The chapter explores the differential impact of the cuts upon the 1960s new universities and discusses the question why universities that had been triumphantly founded by the UGC but a short time ago should now face cuts in public funding. Had the UGC failed to be sufficiently forthcoming in its funding strategy?


Funding cuts Selective allocation of cuts Emergence of UGC planning role 


  1. Ball, R., & Wilkinson, R. (1994). The use and abuse of performance indicators in UK higher education. Higher Education, 27(4), 417–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berdahl, R. O., & Shattock, M. (1984). The British University grants committee, 1919–1983: Changing relationships with government and the universities. Higher Education, 23(5), 471–499.Google Scholar
  3. Blanden, J., & Machin, S. (2013). Educational inequality and the expansion of United Kingdom higher education. Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 60(5), 597–598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cook, W. R. (1976). How the University Grants Committee determines allocations of recurrent grants—a curious correlation. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society (A), 139, 374–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dill, D. D. (1997). Higher education markets and public policy. Higher Education Policy, 10(3–4), 167–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kogan, M., & Kogan, D. (1983). The attack on higher education. London: Kogan Page.Google Scholar
  7. Krieger, J. (1986). Reagan, thatcher, and the politics of decline. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  8. Moodie, G. C. (1983). Buffer, coupling, and broker: Reflections on 60 Years of the UGC. Higher Education, 12(3), 331–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Robinson, E. (1968). The new polytechnics: The people’s universities. London: Penguin Press.Google Scholar
  10. Roszak, T. (1970). The making of a counter culture: reflections on the technocratic society and its youthful opposition. London: Faber.Google Scholar
  11. Sanderson, M. (2002). The history of the University of East Anglia. London: Hambledon Press.Google Scholar
  12. Shattock, M. (1994). The UGC and the management of British Universities. Buckingham: Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Shattock, M. (2001). The academic profession in Britain: A study in the failure to adapt to change. Higher Education, 41(1–2), 27–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Shattock, M. (2012). Making policy in British higher education, 1945–2011. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.Google Scholar
  15. Sizer, J. (1987). Institutional responses to financial reductions in the university sector. London: Department for Education and Science.Google Scholar
  16. Taylor, R. K. S., & Steele, T. (2011). British labour and higher education, 1945 to 2000: Ideologies, policies and practice. United Kingdom: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  17. University Grants Committee (UGC). (1966). University Grants Committee, Annual Survey for the academic year 1965–1966. Cmnd 3192, HMSO.Google Scholar
  18. University Grants Committee (UGC). (1968). University development 1962–67. London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  19. University Grants Committee (UGC) (1981). The Future Pattern of Resources for Universities, Circular Letter 8/81.Google Scholar
  20. University Grants Committee (UGC). (1984). A strategy for higher education into the 1990s; the University Grants Committee’s advice, HMSO.Google Scholar
  21. Wilensky, H. L. (1975). The welfare state and equality: Structural and ideological roots of public expenditure. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  22. Wilkie, T. (1991). British science and politics since 1945. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations