Government needs to be careful not to dilute the value of University title, says 1994 Group

The 1994 Group of leading UK universities has welcomed the news that alternative providers of higher education will be subject to student number controls, set out in the Government’s response to the Higher Education White Paper consultation. However, the Group has also warned of the risk of diluting the value of the university title. 


Professor Michael Farthing, Chairman of the 1994 Group and Vice Chancellor at the University of Sussex, said:


“Bringing alternative providers into the student number controls system is a sensible move that will help keep the costs of student loans under control. However, we need to be careful when it comes to classifying what is and what isn’t a university. Use of the title needs to remain exclusively with institutions that push the boundaries of knowledge through a combination of teaching and research. It is a badge that indicates a particular type of academic community and it would be a mistake to lightly offer it in return only for admitting an arbitrarily determined volume of students. “


“There should of course be scope for new and emerging institutions to gain the title of university, but we should resist moves to devalue the title through indiscriminate use. Not only would this let down institutions that work hard to develop the research and teaching traditionally associated with university status, it could damage the global reputation of UK higher education as a whole. “


“It is disappointing that the Government’s response offers little detail on future regulatory changes in HE beyond the promise of further consultation. With the reform process now stretching into a third year the whole of the sector would no doubt benefit from some signs of long term certainty.”




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Notes to Editors:

1.    The 1994 Group represents the UK’s leading student-focused research-intensive universities. It was established in 1994 to promote excellence in University research and teaching.


2.  9 of the top 20 universities in the Guardian University Guide 2012 league tables are 1994 Group members. 5 of the top 20 universities in the 2012 Sunday Times University League Table are 1994 Group members. 6 of the top 20 universities in the 2012 Complete University Guide are 1994 Group members. The University of Bath is the Sunday Times University of the year.

3. The 1994Group represents: University of Bath, Birkbeck University of London,  University of East Anglia, University of Essex,  Goldsmiths University of London, Institute of Education University of London, Royal Holloway University of London, Lancaster University, University of Leicester, Loughborough University, University of Reading, University of St Andrews, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of Surrey, University of Sussex.

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