The Never-Ending Crisis in British Higher Education

  • Mike Finn


Finn situates today’s higher education ‘crisis’—of finance, status and mission—in historical perspective, revealing that the notion has been an omnipresent feature of the discursive politics of British universities in the post-Second World War era. The chapter shows that the continuous presence of this discourse, whilst reflecting genuine changes in the position of the university in national life, also serves as a useful ‘imaginary’ deployed in political discourse in attempts to remake the academic profession. Thus, the present-day ‘crisis’ in the neoliberal university must be put into an historical perspective if the long-running transformation of universities is to be adequately understood, and neoliberal agendas successfully challenged.


Britain Browne Review Higher education Crisis Neoliberal university 

Works Cited

  1. [Browne Review]. 2010. Independent review of higher education funding and student finance, securing a sustainable future for higher education. London: The Stationery Office.Google Scholar
  2. Adams, Richard. 2016. Anti-terror laws risk “chilling effect” on freedom of speech – Oxford college head. Guardian, February 7.Google Scholar
  3. Adelstein, David. 1969. Roots of the present crisis. In Student power: Problems, diagnosis, action, ed. R. Blackburn and A. Cockburn. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  4. Anderson, Perry. 1964. Origins of the present crisis. New Left Review, 1/23.Google Scholar
  5. Ball, Stephen J. 2013. The education debate. 2nd ed. Bristol: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  6. Berry, Craig. 2011. Globalisation and ideology in Britain: Neoliberalism, free trade and the global economy. 1st ed. Manchester: Manchester University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blyth, Mark. 2013. Austerity: The history of a dangerous idea. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bogdanor, Vernon. 2009. The new British constitution. 1st ed. Oxford: Hart.Google Scholar
  9. Briggs, Asa. 1964. Drawing a new map of learning. In The idea of a new university: An experiment in Sussex, ed. David Daiches. London: Andre Deutsch.Google Scholar
  10. Brown, Roger. 2015. Education beyond the Gove Legacy: The case of higher education. In The Gove Legacy: Education in Britain after the coalition, ed. Mike Finn, 75–86. London: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Collini, Stefan. 2017. Speaking of universities. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  12. Committee on Higher Education [Robbins Report]. 1963. Higher education: Report. Cmnd. 2154. London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  13. Committee on Scientific Manpower [Barlow Report]. 1946. Scientific Man-power. Cmnd. 6284. London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  14. Currie, Jennifer. 1999. Why choose a life on the ocean wave? Times Higher Education, August 6.Google Scholar
  15. Dean, Dennis. 1998. Circular 10/65 Revisited: The labour government and the “comprehensive revolution” in 1964–1965. Paedagogica Historica 34 (1): 63–91. Scholar
  16. Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). 2016. Success as a knowledge economy: Teaching excellence, social mobility and student choice. Cmnd. 9258. London: TSO.Google Scholar
  17. Department for Education and Skills (DfES). 2003. The future of higher education. Cmnd. 5735. London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  18. Edgerton, David. 2006. Warfare state. 1st ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Finn, Mike. 2002. The new elite. Guardian, November 27.Google Scholar
  20. ———. 2015. Education beyond the Gove legacy: The case of higher education (2) – Ideology in action. In The Gove Legacy: Education in Britain after the coalition, ed. Mike Finn, 87–100. London: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Finn, Mike, and Anthony Seldon. 2013. Constitutional reform since 1997: The historians’ perspective. In The British constitution: Continuity and change, ed. Matt Qvortrup. Oxford: Hart.Google Scholar
  22. Fulton, John. 1964. New universities in perspective. In The idea of a new university: An experiment in Sussex, ed. David Daiches, 1112. London: Andre Deutsch. in Sussex (London, 1966).Google Scholar
  23. Gamble, Andrew. 1988. The free economy and the strong state. 1st ed. Basingstoke: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Green, E.H.H. 1999. Thatcherism: An historical perspective. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 9: 17–42. Scholar
  25. Hailsham, Lord. 1976. Elective dictatorship: The Richard Dimbleby Lecture 1976. The Listener, October 21.Google Scholar
  26. Hale, Sir Edward. 1957. Letter to R. N. Quirk, Lord President’s Committee, December 10. National Archives [NA] CAB 21/4627.Google Scholar
  27. Harvey, David. 2005. A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Hillman, Nicholas. 2013. From grants for all to loans for all: Undergraduate finance from the implementation of the Anderson Report (1962) to the implementation of the Browne Report (2012). Contemporary British History 27 (3): 249–270. Scholar
  29. Johnson, Paul, and Daniel Chivers. 2015. The coalition and the economy. In The coalition effect, 2010–2015, ed. Anthony Seldon and Mike Finn, 159–193. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Krugman, Paul. 2015. The case for cuts was a lie: Why does Britain still believe it? Guardian, May 10.Google Scholar
  31. Labour Party. 1964. Let’s go with labour for the new Britain: The labour party’s manifesto for the 1964 general election. 1st ed. London: Labour Party.Google Scholar
  32. McGettigan, Andrew. 2013. The great university gamble: Money, markets and the future of higher education. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  33. Ministry of Education. 1956. Technical education. Cmnd. 9703. London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  34. Moberly, W.H. 1949. The crisis in the university. 1st ed. London: SCM Press.Google Scholar
  35. Morrison, Herbert. 1946. Government and the universities: A memorandum by the Lord President of the Council. June 29. National Archives PREM/8/478 [L.P. (46) 160].Google Scholar
  36. Mountford, James Frederick. 1972. Keele, an historical critique. 1st ed. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  37. Mullins, Phil, and Struan Jacobs. 2006. T.S. Eliot’s idea of the clerisy, and its discussion by Karl Mannheim and Michael Polanyi in the context of J.H. Oldham’s Moot. Journal of Classical Sociology 6 (2): 147–156. Scholar
  38. Phillips, David. 1980. Lindsay and the German universities: An Oxford contribution to the post-war reform debate. Oxford Review of Education 6 (1): 91–105. Scholar
  39. Raven, James. 1989. British history and the enterprise culture. Past and Present 123 (1): 178–204. Scholar
  40. Robbins, Lionel. 1966. The university in the modern world. 1st ed. Macmillan.Google Scholar
  41. Salter, Brian, and Ted Tapper. 1994. The state and higher education. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Seymour, Richard. 2014. Against austerity: How we can fix the crisis they made. 1st ed. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  43. Shattock, Michael. 1994. The UGC and the management of British universities. 1st ed. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  44. ———. 2012. Making policy in British higher education, 1945–2011. 1st ed. Maidenhead: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Shepherd, Jessica. 2010. UK universities likely to follow US model, says leading vice-chancellor. Guardian, October 8.Google Scholar
  46. Smith, Brian, and Vanessa Cunningham. 2003. Crisis at Cardiff. In Managing crisis, ed. David Warner and David Palfreyman. Maidenhead: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Stiglitz, Joseph. 2009. Moving beyond market fundamentalism to a more balanced economy. Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics 80 (3): 345–360. Scholar
  48. Suissa, Judith. 2010. Anarchism and education: A philosophical perspective. 1st ed. Oakland: PM.Google Scholar
  49. Tapper, Ted. 2007. The governance of British higher education: The struggle for policy control. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  50. Tight, Malcolm. 2009. The development of higher education in the United Kingdom since 1945. 1st ed. Maidenhead: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Wilkinson, Ellen. 1946. Government and the universities: Memorandum to the Lord President of the Council’s Committee. July 9. National Archives: PREM/8/478 [L.P. (46) 174].Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mike Finn
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ExeterExeterUK

Personalised recommendations